Report: John Calipari “desperately wants” to coach in the NBA again

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What would be next for John Calipari? He’s currently guiding an unbeaten Kentucky team through the NCAA Tournament, and there’s nowhere to go but down for him in the college game. According to a new report, though, Calipari is angling for another crack at coaching in the NBA, and it could come with the Nets, the team he coached previously.

From NorthJersey.com’s Steve Popper:

It’s simple to follow the trail of where it went wrong, but one NBA front office official looked at the situation and believed there is a way back — and one that could happen.

The one name that could return the Nets to all of those things they thought they could be, that they seemed primed to be, is currently guiding the best college basketball team in the nation, a coach who crashed and burned with the Nets once already. The Nets can be saved by John Calipari.

“He desperately wants it,” the front office official said. “He won’t say it out loud. The NBA is the only place he’s ever failed and it drives him nuts. He’s not the same guy he was then. He came to the NBA and he wasn’t ready. He’s ready now.”

If it seems like grasping at straws, a big name to save the day, maybe it is. But NBA sources point to ties that are already in place. In the Nets’ struggles, the one person who has held the trust of Prokhorov is the man behind the marketing, the tireless Brett Yormark. While the product on the court has struggled, the branding of the Nets has been a blueprint for other franchises. While Calipari may have left some rifts when he was fired by the Nets, he remained close with Yormark.

Calipari previously flopped as Nets coach in parts of three seasons from 1997 to 1999. He had a 72-112 record and went back to the college ranks, where he’s had phenomenal success in recent years. He’s become known as the best recruiter in the nation, routinely attracting top-level talent to Kentucky and getting players better prepared for the NBA than any other college coach. If you look at the list of players who played for him at Kentucky, it speaks for itself: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Karl-Anthony Towns is in the conversation to be the top pick in the upcoming draft.

In June, Calipari reportedly turned down a $60 million offer from the Cavaliers, opting to stay at Kentucky. At the time, it wasn’t yet known that LeBron James would be returning. If James, a close friend of Calipari, was already on board, that may have changed the calculus on his decision.

Calipari wasn’t successful as an NBA coach before, but the climate of the NBA is far different now than it was in the 1990s. Player movement is controlled so much more by superstars, and Calipari has relationships with many of them. His strengths as a recruiter could prove invaluable to an NBA team, especially one in a big market like Brooklyn.

This is all speculation for now. Calipari is still trying to seal the deal on another national title with Kentucky. But the rumblings are starting that he may have his sights set higher going forward.

Paul George’s late three proves to be game-winner against Thunder, his former team (VIDEO)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Paul George hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 25 seconds left, lifting the Los Angeles Clippers over the Oklahoma City Thunder 90-88 on Monday night to improve to 8-1 at home.

The Thunder had just tied the game at 86-all on a 3-pointer by former Clipper Danilo Gallinari before Chris Paul made two free throws after being fouled by George for an 88-86 lead.

George’s 3 put the Clippers ahead 89-88.

The Clippers were then called for a foul that was overturned on a challenge by coach Doc Rivers. The Thunder retained possession and Terrance Ferguson inbounded to Gallinari, whose 3-pointer missed.

George made a free throw with 0.3 seconds left to close out the game against the team that traded him to Los Angeles last summer.

The Thunder fell to 0-5 on the road.

Montrezl Harrell had 28 points and 12 rebounds off the bench to lead the Clippers. George finished with 18 points after scoring 30-plus points in his first two games of the season.

Paul scored 22 points, making 10 of 11 free throws, against his former team. Gallinari added 14 points and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, another former Clipper, had 11 points despite five fouls.

The Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard for the third straight game because of a bruised left knee.

 

Luka Doncic with 42-point triple-double, sticks dagger in Spurs for Mavericks win

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Luka Doncic is having a “we’ve got to talk about this guy as a possible MVP” kind of season so far.

The latest addition to the resume: A 42 point, 11 rebounds, 12 assist triple-double to lead the Mavericks past the Spurs. That includes sticking the dagger in the Spurs late.

Dallas won 117-110 and improves to 8-5 on the season.

The 42 points is a career-high for Doncic, and he is the first player in Dallas history to record a 40-point triple-double. This is Doncic’s sixth triple-double of the season.

And he’s still just 20 years old.

Here’s the full list of NBA players who have had 40-point triple-doubles at the age of 20 or younger:

LeBron James
Luka Doncic

That’s it — and that’s some impressive company for Doncic.

Kings’ Buddy Hield fined $25,000 for kicking ball into stands in celebration

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This was a $25,000 celebration by Buddy Hield.

Sacramento led by one in the final seconds against Boston Sunday, but the Celtics had a final shot and Marcus Smart‘s attempt at a game-winning floater hung on the rim seemingly forever… then fell off. The ball was tipped out to mid-court and — as you can see in this video — Heild kicks the ball into the stands as part of the celebration.

Kicking or throwing the ball into the stands is a standing $25,000 fine, and the league came down with that on Hield on Monday. It was not a surprise.

Hield was the reason Sacramento won the game, scoring 35 points to lead the Kings, including going 7-of-12 from three. He’d likely make that trade for the win again.

Kawhi Leonard out vs. Thunder Monday night, third straight game due to knee bruise

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This isn’t load management. This is a bruised knee.

The first Clipper game with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George sharing the court will have to wait as Leonard is going to miss his third straight game with a knee contusion Monday night against the Thunder. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN broke the news.

The Clippers are going to be cautious with bringing Leonard back from this, thinking long term with his health, as they should. Los Angeles is playing for games in May and June, not games in November.

This means tonight the Clippers will be the Paul George show again — in two games he has scored 70 points in 44 minutes. This will be George’s first game against the Thunder since he demanded a trade out of the city last summer, landing him on the Clippers with Leonard.