John Calipari

Coach Cal to the Nets?


John Calipari has coached in the NBA before.

After he took UMass to the Final Four in 1996, Cal left for the league, taking over the New Jersey Nets and hanging around for less than three seasons. He was fired 20 games into the 1998-99 campaign, and after spending a year as an assistant with Philadelphia, Calipari returned to the amateur ranks.

First Memphis, and now Kentucky.

But it seems like the rumors that involve Cal making a return to the NBA pop up every year. Back in 2010, less than a year after he left Memphis, Cal’s name was in the mix for the Nets opening. In April, just days after winning Kentucky’s eighth national title, Cal was thought to be a contender for the opening with the New York Knicks.

Adrian Wojnarowski wrote this in a terrific column before Cal spurned the Knicks’ advances:

Calipari had complete control of the franchise but little control of himself. He is securer in his insecurity now, but a desire to return to the NBA has never left. He has his NCAA championship now, and the New York Knicks have three necessities that Calipari desperately needs: a vacancy, a big stage and a blank check.

Why am I bringing this up now?

Well, earlier today, the Nets fired head coach Avery Johnson. And that undoubtedly means that Calipari’s name is going to be brought back up again, only now his friendship with Jay-Z — remember Kentucky played Maryland in the college opener for the Barclays Center? — will be thrown into the equation.

So is there a chance that Coach Cal will be heading up the Nets? According to Ken Berger, no. None at all:

John Calipari? Given minority owner Jay-Z’s relationship with the Kentucky coach … oh, let me stop myself right there. Sources say the answer to whether the Nets will consider Calipari is an unequivocal no. Moving on …

I guess that’s that.

With the recruiting class that he has coming in next year, I don’t think it would be smart for Cal to leave. A perfect season is a real possibility.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Illinois’ injury woes continue as starting center needs knee surgery

George Niang,Abdel Nader,Mike Thorne, Jr.
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.

Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.

Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.

The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.

John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.

NEW PODCAST: Recapping Feast Week

Kris Dunn
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.

For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.

Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.

As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.