Could John Calipari make a return to the NBA?

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While Western Kentucky doesn’t have the look of a team that will scare Kentucky, the last thing a coach wants to deal with the day before a game are distractions. That’s what UK head coach John Calipari got on his plate right now, with some thinking that he may be interested in heading back to the NBA at some point in the near future.

What got the ball rolling on this today? The “resignation” of New York Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni, which came as a result of the Knicks struggling after the power of “Linsanity” wore off.

There were rumblings before the season even began that the third-year UK head coach would entertain the idea of coaching in New York should the job become open, but Calipari took to Twitter to make it clear that he’s happy in Lexington.

“As I’ve said before I have the greatest job in basketball at any level,” Calipari tweeted. “Why would I be interested in another job?”

Calipari reiterated that during the team’s media session at the KFC Yum! Center, where they face 16-seed Western Kentucky on Thursday. He also doesn’t believe that this rumor will have a negative effect on his team’s focus.

“Every job that’s open, including high school jobs and AAU jobs, my name is mentioned. So no,” said Calipari when asked about the distraction factor. “But I just wanted to say, I have a great job.  The best in this profession.  That’s what I said.”

Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun, whose team could face Kentucky in the third round, stated that he could see Calipari returning to the NBA at some point.

But as a coach who was long dogged by detractors who pointed to his lack of a national title, Calhoun also made the point of noting that Calipari doesn’t have anything left to prove at the collegiate level regardless of whether or not he has a ring.

“He certainly can handle the players, that’s one thing,” said Calhoun at UConn’s media session. “And I’ve always said that some of our best teams are much more difficult to handle because of talent, and he’s done a remarkable job doing that.

“I don’t think he has to prove anything more in college basketball if he got a very good NBA job, if that’s what he’d want to do.  I personally don’t think he has to prove anything.”

The immediate question is whether or not this latest set of rumors will have an impact on the focus of the Wildcats, who rely on some key players who haven’t been on the Road to the Final Four.

However given how well (and focused) the Wildcats have been for much of the season, Big Blue Nation shouldn’t be all that concerned.

Raphielle Johnson is the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net. He can be followed at @raphiellej.