John Calipari

Coach Cal to the Nets?

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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.

UNLV’s Stephen Zimmerman out with a knee injury

UNLV forward Stephen Zimmerman Jr. shoots against San Diego State during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Las Vegas. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
(L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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The injury Stephen Zimmerman suffered on Saturday will keep the star UNLV freshman out for at least a week, a source told NBC Sports.

The injury is not thought to be serious, however. Zimmerman may be kept out for longer as a precaution, but that’s a result of the Runnin’ Rebels being in a situation where the rest of their regular season is relatively meaningless.

They’re not getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament regardless of how they finish out league play. With back-up center Ben Carter out with a torn ACL, it’s more important to make sure that Zimmerman, who is averaging 10.6 points and 9.1 boards this season, is totally healthy for the Mountain West tournament.

That tournament, mind you, will be played at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

So the Runnin’ Rebels, regardless of how poor they’ve played this season, will always have a chance to land an automatic bid.

Anyway, the more interesting aspect of this story is how Zimmerman injured the knee. It was a completely avoidable play that came after the whistle, but I’m not sure it was what you would call a “dirty play”. You tell me:

VIDEO: Buddy Hield is ‘all money’ on game-winning three vs. No. 24 Texas

Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) takes a shot over Oklahoma State forward Chris Oliver during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
(AP Photo/Brody Schmidt)
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With a little more than three minutes left on Monday night, No. 24 Texas held a 57-51 lead on No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman as Jordan Woodard struggled again and Buddy Hield failed to find the rhythm that he had throughout the first three months of the season.

At that point in the game, Hield was 4-for-14 from the floor with 15 points and four turnovers. He had just missed a pair of wide-open threes

“I couldn’t make a shot,” Hield said after the game. But that changed down the stretch. First, Hield finally got a three to drop. On the next possession, he got all the way to the rim and scored. On the following two possessions, he was fouled on a drive to the rim and hit four free throws. And after missing a pull-up jumper, Hield did this:

“I told coach I wanted the ball,” Hield said, “I saw Lammert coming to bite, so I pulled up.”

“It’s all money.”

Hield is already the favorite to win National Player of the Year, and this performance is only going to help his cause further. Think about it like this: Buddy was not good on Monday night, at least according to his (admittedly lofty) standards. But he still finished with 27 points and shook off a cold shooting night just in time to take over down the stretch.

Now think about this: Hield’s head coach has enough confidence in him to hand him the keys in the final minutes despite the fact that he’s struggling and on a team that has two other players that Lon Kruger trusts on game-winning possessions. Think about it. When Oklahoma beat West Virginia at the buzzer, it was Jordan Woodard that the play was drawn up for. When they beat LSU, it was Isaiah Cousins that got the rock on the final possession while Hield was used as a decoy. .

Want to talk about coaching luxuries?

Kruger has three guards that can shoot, penetrate and score, and penetrate and kick, and one of them is the National Player of the Year that doesn’t mind being used as a decoy.