Before Lance Stephenson attended the Hornets' meeting and was handed team material on that July night in Las Vegas, pleas were made to find salary space and a shorter-term deal with the Pacers. Read More. Written by Shams Charania on Oct 22, 2014
John Calipari is finalizing plans to host an unprecedented two-day campus scouting combine at Kentucky for NBA executives to evaluate his roster of potential prospects.
Calipari has invited officials of the 30 NBA teams to send personnel to Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 11-12 to watch his players do everything from run full-court five-on-five and NBA-style pick-and-roll sets to individual skill work.
The event will also allow Calipari to impress top high school recruits on campus visits.
After the combine, Calipari plans to shut out NBA executives and scouts from his practices for several weeks – perhaps even months – into the season, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
NBA personnel aren't allowed to interact with college undergraduates, but Calipari can simply shape his workouts to be conducive to the NBA's needs.
As one executive laughed, "We're just there as B-roll for his recruiting videos."
John Calipari had an opportunity to leave Kentucky for the Cleveland Cavaliers and he says he would have likely stayed in Lexington even if he had known LeBron James would eventually join him.
"Now, obviously coaching at Kentucky is special," said Calipari. "It is unique and special. But this, for me, becomes about these kids. I have no desire, nor am I out looking for (jobs). I got the job. I got the job. What would move me to stay was these kids need me here. That's what I'm doing. At the end of the day, that was what (kept him at UK). It wasn't money."
Calipari was "not as (close) as everybody thought" to leaving for the NBA.
Calipari says James' decision wouldn't have played a factor.
"No. No. I don't think so. Because he and I have a great relationship, but it's not based on me coaching him," Calipari said. "We've got a relationship. I've known him for years and years. We've always been friends. But it was never based on that. I've said that. I've had a chance to coach Derrick Rose, John Wall and DeMarcus (Cousins), Anthony Davis and Michael (Kidd-Gilchrist). And I'm leaving names off, but I've coached some of the best players in basketball, and it is a thrill. There's nothing better than that. Especially when those guys are all good guys.
"Well, LeBron is also that kind of player and that kind of person. But again, leaving guys who made decisions based on what's right for their career was something I couldn't have gotten by anyway."
Nerlens Noel credits Rajon Rondo for being the biggest help in recovering from a torn ACL.
Noel and Rondo each played collegiately at Kentucky.
"With all the support and love, certain guys, especially Rajon Rondo -- he was definitely the biggest helper through this whole process, he actually gave me his phone number and told me I could hit him up whenever about it. Being from Boston, watching him growing up, and he went through it and he came back as strong as possible, actually before me, so it gave me a lot of confidence, having his good faith."
Noel will begin his rookie season one year after being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers.
Julius Randle will likely need surgery on his right foot after the NBA Draft.
Randle will likely need six to eight weeks of rehab before he's cleared to play, which would force him to miss Summer League in July. But Randle is expected to be ready for the start of training camp in the fall.
As a high school senior in Texas two years ago, Randle missed three months with a fractured right foot. There was a screw placed into his foot that needs to be removed as a precautionary procedure, sources said.
Randle's stock isn't expected to be impacted, as several executives considered it a minor issue.
John Calipari was linked to the NBA after the NCAA championship game, but a strong recruiting class and the decision by Andrew Harrison and Aaron Harrison to stay at Kentucky made leaving Kentucky a difficult proposition, according to sources.
Kentucky will have nearly 60 percent of its scoring return despite losing Julius Randle and James Young.
There's a strong belief that Calipari would have accepted a $60 million offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers had those key players declared for the draft.
John Calipari and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced deeply into negotiations on a seven-year, $60 million contract to become president and head coach, according to sources.
Dan Gilbert had been persistent in pursuing Calipari.
Gilbert and Calipari had discussed a package in the range of $8 million-plus a year, sources said, and it wasn't until midweek that Calipari finally rejected Cleveland and fully committed to his seven-year, $52 million extension at Kentucky.
David Griffin would have worked with Calipari in the front office, but the latter would have final say on all personnel decisions.
Beyond the financial incentives, Calipari had some intrigue with the infrastructure of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and the possibility of the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft.
Update: Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the Cavaliers' offer to Calipari was closer to $80 million over 10 years. The Cavaliers thought that landing Calipari would give the team a much better shot at convincing James to return. Wojnarowski reported a follow-up that there was talk of a transition for Calipari to become strictly president of the club and that the offer was strictly $60 million over seven years.
John Calipari has interest in coaching LeBron James at one point, but he doesn't believe the time is now.
"Are you kidding me?'' Calipari said in a telephone interview on Wednesday morning when asked about his interest in coaching James. "Have a chance to coach the best player in the world? Yes, I would love to coach him. But what's happened is our careers are criss-crossing without crossing.
"I'm not in a position where I would leave Kentucky right now. I'm not sure whether this is his last contract, or his next-to-last contract. But I would tell you if I had a chance to, I would absolutely.''
Calipari has been linked to NBA jobs though he appears focused at remaining at Kentucky.
"You'd have a chance to say, 'I coached here, I coached here and I coached Derrick Rose and I coached LeBron James,'' said Calipari. "Are you kidding me? To know he's all about championship. He's all about family. He will defer. He will give up money. He'll do whatever he has to.
"Yes, I would love to coach him. But early in his career I said maybe that would happen happen some day, but as we both get older it doesn't appear that it will happen. But he and I have never discussed it.''