No, not the Meadowlands parking lot, but rather the NBA franchise that represents the sole black eye (in terms of wins and losses, anyway) on his head coaching resume. In Wednesday’s Bergen Record, Steve Popper seriously suggests the best foot forward for the underachieving Brooklyn Nets would be to woo John Calipari away from Lexington, arguing the one-time Nets coach has little left to prove in the amateur ranks. More chillingly, Popper claims Calipari has remained buds with Brooklyn marketing maven Brett Yormark.
So consider this scenario — the Nets figure to have about $60 million in cap space in the summer of 2016, coinciding with a free agent market loaded with talent.
What would it take to draw Calipari from Kentucky back to save the Nets, to oversee a recruiting class on the NBA level? It’s easy to see how it benefits the Nets — an owner who promised a championship in a five-year timetable that expires at the end of this season given a star again, a second citizen in the New York market given a voice again. And for Calipari, coaching for a team in a large market with a deep-pocketed owner puts him squarely in the NBA game again.
For Prokhorov to make it happen, though, there is a path to clear. That would mean Hollins gets cut loose after one season (if it were to come this summer) or two, if they wanted to beat the free agent frenzy next summer.
To land Calipari it would likely mean that he is handed not only the coaching reins, but the keys to the franchise, too, the same ones they wouldn’t give Kidd. That means the sort of power that Stan Van Gundy got in Detroit, Flip Saunders in Minnesota and Doc Rivers with the Clippers.
It’s what Calipari has in Kentucky. It’s what sources close to him believe it would take to be the spot he will land. And all that Calipari could offer the Nets is everything they dreamed they could be.