Within minutes of the Celtics’ elimination of the Cavs last night at the TD Garden — an achievement almost thoroughly obscured by rampant speculation over LeBron James’ free agency plans —- ESPN’s Chad Ford reported no fewer than 3 unnamed NBA general managers had predicted James and University Of Kentucky head coach John Calipari would come to Chicago, the former possibly in a sign and trade with Luol Deng (thus giving the Bulls enough cap room to pursue another top tier free agent). Having already eviscerated James following a putrid Game 5 performance, Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski continues to heap abuse on The King Sans Ring (“he shot 44 percent for the series, turned the ball over 27 times and behaved like a lousy leader…the next time you hear James, as the franchise star, say, ‘This was on me,’ will be the first”) along with joining the Calipari Chorus.
James is forever seeking leverage, and hand-picking his own coach with the Cavs could be the most appealing part of staying with them. What James™ crew will do is force an NBA market for Calipari that exists in only two scenarios: The promise of keeping James or the promise of luring James away.
For Leon Rose and William Wesley to attach the prime years of James™ career to Calipari would speak more to an economic power play and monopoly than a functional, workable and winning NBA environment. For some college coaches, talk of them going to the NBA hurts their recruiting. It™s just the opposite for Calipari: It isn™t those stiff owners and GMs who want Calipari, but King James himself. Calipari tells the kids it™s all rumor, except for the part about James, the MVP, wanting him. The Bulls deliver the bonus of Derrick Rose(notes) as the star point guard, and Rose does love his old college coach at Memphis.
Yet, the desperation of Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert makes Calipari™s hiring at $5 million-$6 million a genuine possibility, should James simply say the word. Nevertheless, one Eastern Conference executive close to Ferry told Yahoo! Sports this week: œI think Danny would resign before he™d hire Cal.
There™s a reason Calipari sat courtside with Rose at Tuesday™s Game 5 in Cleveland, and it had everything to do with thrusting himself into the Class of 2010 conversation. As narcissists go, Calipari and James probably belong together. It would be a partnership constructed for all the wrong reasons and doomed to spectacular failure.
If James and Calipari pull off this power play, it would be a spectacular coup for the latter considering he usually needs to forfeit a Final Four before landing on his feet elsewhere. And if Calipari ends up in Chicago, he’ll be thrilled to learn there’s all sorts of terrific Mexican food to sample.