One day after a CBSSports.com report said Kentucky coach John Calipari was not on the short list to become the next Nets coach, Calipari ruled himself out.
“I’ve got a great job at Kentucky and I have no interest in any other job,” Calipari told reporters Friday, according to Chip Miller. “I love my job”
Calipari coached the New Jersey Nets from 1996-99 and his name comes up often when NBA jobs open. He has close ties to Nets minority owner Jay-Z, who visited the Kentucky players in the locker room at the Prudential Center in 2011 following their Elite Eight victory over North Carolina, as well as Nets CEO Brett Yormark.
Phil Jackson reportedly remains the No. 1 target of Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov to replace the fired Avery Johnson, with Jeff Van Gundy also a favorite. The Zenmaster is on record saying he’s not interested “at this time.” Former Seton Hall and NBA coach P.J. Carlesimo is currently the interim coach.
Calipari, meantime, is preparing to face arch-nemesis Rick Pitino and No. 4 Louisville on Saturday afternoon at the KFC Yum! Center. Kentucky beat Louisville in the Final Four en route to Calipari’s first NCAA championship, but now Calipari says the Cardinals are the favorites.
Calipari said Louisville should be the “odds-on favorite to win the whole thing,” according to John Clay. “That’s how good I think it is.”
Calipari added: “They are a well-oiled machine. We are a work in progress.”
Both teams will be at full strength now that Louisville has 6-11 big man Gorgui Dieng is back from a broken wrist.
“That gives them no excuse to say, ‘Oh, we didn’t have this player or that player,'” Kentucky freshman center Nerlens Noel said, according to Kyle Tucker.
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.