Kentucky is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Calipari will reportedly get a contract extension that pays nearly $8 million per year through 2022. It’s unclear whether his buyout, which was previously $0, changes as a result. But the extension reportedly includes a $1.6 million bonus if Calipari remains at Kentucky on July 1.
That would take Calipari past the peak of the NBA’s coach-hiring season, but not fully off the market.
Jason Kidd (Bucks), Lionel Hollins (Nets) and Byron Scott (Lakers) all got hired after July 1 last year. Notably, Brad Stevens (Celtics) jumped from college to the pros after July 1 the year prior.
The Pelicans have an opening after firing Monty Williams and two former Calipari players in Anthony Davis (Kentucky) and Tyreke Evans. Cleveland – i.e., LeBron James – doesn’t seem totally sold on David Blatt. Remember, the Cavaliers pursued Calipari last summer, and the coach is close with LeBron.
The Nuggets and Magic don’t necessarily need previous Calipari ties to pursue him, and other jobs will likely open this offseason.
A $1.6 million bonus on July 1 certainly makes it more likely Calipari remains at Kentucky. But if Calipari finds a situation he likes, I doubt $1.6 million will keep him from the NBA – and there’s a chance he won’t have to choose between the two.