Kurt Helin

Kentucky head coach John Calipari calls out to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio State Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Associated Press

Report: Nets’ CEO wants to bring John Calipari back as coach, GM


John Calipari was the head coach and the guy with the hammer on personnel decisions with the then New Jersey Nets for three seasons in the late 1990s, and he was 72-112 with that team. And Jerry West fleeced him out of drafting Kobe Bryant. Eventually, Calipari went back to college and has done quite well for himself, returning Kentucky to a powerhouse position in the sport.

As soon as Lionel Hollins was fired as coach and GM Billy King was reassigned from his duties on Sunday, Calipari’s name started coming up again in rumors. With good reason, explains Adrian Wojnarowski over at Yahoo Sports.

One of the major influences in the search process promises to be Nets CEO Brett Yormark, who has remained an immense ally of Kentucky coach John Calipari since Calipari’s late 1990s tenure as Nets president and coach. Yormark has remained a proponent of making a lucrative offer to bring Calipari back to the Nets in a dual president and coaching role, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Calipari returning to the NBA rumors are an annual tradition — just like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhogs Day, and just about as meaningful. That said, the Nets do have the money and they could give him the power that would make him consider a return to the NBA.

Do they have the situation to get him to return? Probably not. He’s a man with options, and the Nets GM job is set up to be the worst one in the league for the next few seasons. It’s going to take years to rebuild, and owner Mikhail Prokhorov has not shown himself to be the most patient of owners. The Nets don’t have a lot of talent on the roster (10-27 record this season), and what they do have is generally older and not going to get a lot on trades (outside Brook Lopez and rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson). If you’re thinking rebuild through the draft remember the Nets don’t have or control their own first-round pick until 2019.

Calipari would be counted on to use his charm and connections — his former players at Kentucky, and other players as well, love him — to lure free agents to Brooklyn. The Nets have the cap space. But elite free agents are going to see the rebuild ahead in Brooklyn, and even the pull of New York and Calipari together will not be enough.

Which is why Calipari will look at his options and stay in Kentucky.

That said, expect the Nets to make a run at Calipari. Well, probably. It’s hard to say who has control or what they are going to do in Brooklyn.

LeBron James got drilled in the face by a basketball during warmups


If you’re one of those people who still harbors hate in your heart for LeBron James because… I have no idea why, even if you’re a Miami fan (he brought you two rings), but to each his own. If you can’t appreciate basketball greatness and enjoy it when you see it because you think this guy you don’t know slighted you or your city, or isn’t the person you want him to be, that’s more about you than him.

Still, if you are one of those people — or you just enjoy watching a guy getting drilled in the face by a basketball — this is for you. It comes from the warmups of the Cavaliers taking on the Sixers.

It’s even better in Vine form.

Rudy Gay calls out bandwagon Warriors’ fans in Sacramento


Sacramento has a very loyal Kings fan base (see the rallies to keep the team in that city for example 1A).

But Sacramento is just a 90-minute car ride from the Bay Area, the home of the hottest team and brand in the NBA. And whenever the hottest team in the NBA comes to any arena, suddenly their fans pop up and are vocal. That was the case in Sacramento Saturday night; the Warriors fans were out in force for what was an entertaining 128-116 Golden State win.

Rudy Gay was asked about it after the game, you can see his response above.

“I guess the Warriors fans in Sacramento are riding the bandwagon just like everyone else.” 

You can understand Gay’s frustration of playing hard and hearing cheers for the other team in your home building. Of course, the way to silence them and change that dynamic is to win. Not that anybody is doing that much against the Warriors of late.

Anthony Davis out Sunday vs. Clippers with sore back

Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis
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Anthony Davis played only three minutes against the Pacers Friday due to a sore back. By Sunday, it was not better.

Davis is out Sunday vs. the Clippers in Los Angeles. Ryan Anderson got the start in his place. From Brett Dawson of the New Orleans Advocate.

This is not expected to be a long-term injury for Davis, who is averaging 23.1 points and 11 rebounds a game for New Orleans.

What’s next for Brooklyn? Nobody knows, but expect something bold

Atlanta Hawks v Brooklyn Nets
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It was a foolish plan, but it was bold.

When Mikhail Prokhorov took over control of the Nets and they were ready to move to Brooklyn, he wanted to take over the New York market and promised a title within five seasons — then told GM Billy King to do whatever it took to put together a contender. It was brash, like Prokhorov himself. It was also shortsighted. In the NBA you can’t put together a title contender without at least one Top 10, franchise-changing player, and the Nets had zero of them. What’s more, to acquire the pieces that Prokhorov wanted in the short-term meant King would have to sacrifice the long-term. King made bad deals (and followed them up with bad deals, he made plenty of mistakes), all of which led to a troubled organization, but everything started with orders from on high.

The bill for those moves has come due, and Sunday it cost coach Lionel Hollins and King their jobs.

So what’s next in Brooklyn?

Nobody knows. But whoever lands in the GM and coaches chairs (and don’t be shocked if it’s one big name given a lot of power) know this — they will not be able to turn this around quickly.

The Nets will have tons of cap space next summer to throw at free agents, but they are going to have to settle for second-tier guys. Do you think Kevin Durant or Al Horford or Michael Conley or any of the other top free agents drawing multiple max offers will decide to step into this mess and try to be the savior? The New York market is still a draw, but remember last summer when Greg Monroe chose Milwaukee over New York because he liked how the organization was better positioned? That’s going to happen to the Nets this summer. There is no magic bullet for the Nets.

Why don’t the Nets just draft the franchise player they need to turn things around (like the Knicks across town)? Because the Nets don’t have their pick this season — the Celtics control it unprotected, part of the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett deals King was pushed to make when the team moved to Brooklyn. In fact, the Nets don’t control their own first-round pick until 2019, all a result of King trying to do what Prokhorov wanted from the start. They are not rebuilding through the draft.

It’s going to be a slow process in Brooklyn, but expect Prokhorov to try to jump-start it with a big name. Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News mentions the one that quickly started to buzz around the league again.

I expect overtures to be made. The question is would Calipari want to step into this? Slow rebuilds are not his thing. Might he just leverage the Nets for even more money in Kentucky, where he has built a powerhouse? It’s something to watch.

Bondy also mentions Danny Ferry, who brings baggage but certainly showed in Atlanta he knows how to build a team.

However, I’m not sure that’s a big enough splash. Not with Tom Thibodeau, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and other splashy names for the New York market available. Thibodeau and Van Gundy — like Calipari — would want player control as well as being coach. Does Prokhorov want to bring in the CSKA Moscow president as GM, then let him pick the coach?

Whoever lands in the GM chair, will they try to trade guys like Joe Johnson (at the deadline) and Brook Lopez to get some picks and restock the roster? That would seem the smart play. A foundation needs to be laid before elite free agents will seriously consider coming to Brooklyn.

The challenge with prediction a direction for the Nets is there is no clear voice charting the path — there are a lot of different voices in Brooklyn suggesting a lot of different directions. Bondy reports that Brett Yormark is having a greater say in the organization (he’s a Calipari guy), as does Russian Dmitry Razumov. Who has Prokhorov’s ear?

In the interim, expect confusion out of Brooklyn, until Prokhorov decides to make his next bold strike.