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.