Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Will the NCAA’s investigation of former Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe send John Calipari packing for the NBA?
At least one NBA agent says Yes.
“Obviously, if something’s going to go down at Kentucky, that would be the third school [that Calipari’s impacted].
“I would think that that would expedite something.”
The New York Times reported online Friday that the NCAA was investigating “changes in Bledsoe’s academic and athletic prospects” during his time in high school in Alabama and that those changes “could be another blow to Kentucky Coach John Calipari, who led teams at Massachusetts and Memphis that had their records and Final Four appearances expunged after rules violations were found under his watch.”
Kentucky reached the Elite Eight last season before getting upset by West Virginia.
Five Kentucky players — including Bledsoe and three other freshmen, John Wall, Daniel Orton and DeMarcus Cousins — have declared for the NBA Draft.
Kentucky has already landed a stellar recruiting class for 2010, including guards Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb, high school forwards Terrence Jones and Enes Kanter, and JUCO forward Eloy Vargas.
Calipari is on record saying he will remain at Kentucky for next season, but could the investigation into Bledsoe’s status propel him to the NBA?
After the Philadelphia 76ers introduced Doug Collins as their new coach Monday, there are now six head coaching vacancies in the NBA.
Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans, the Los Angeles Clippers and New Jersey all have openings.
Reports indicated that NBA power broker William Wesleyhad shopped the idea of a package deal in which Calipari and LeBron James — who are friendly and share a common bond to agent Leon Rose — would head to the same NBA franchise, with the Bulls, Nets and Clippers mentioned as options.
Still, NBA agent Mark Bartelsteinpreviously told SNY.tv he doesn’t believe James wants to hand-pick his next coach.
“Unless I’m wrong, I don’t think LeBron would want to do that,” Bartelstein said. “I’d be surprised if he’d want to put himself in that position. You’re in the locker room with all the other guys.”
One Eastern Conference NBA assistant coach said he believed the Clippers and the Bulls were delaying their coaching hires to see which way James is leaning.
“There’s been at least two teams that it’s apparent that they’re delaying the coaching search to get closer to the July 1 deadline so LeBron can weigh in,” the assistant said. “It looks like the Clippers are doing it. I wouldn’t be surprised if Chicago doesn’t have that in mind, either.”
Calipari went 72-112 in parts of three seasons with the Nets in the late 90s and his tenure there was recently criticized by a national columnist.
“Between you, me and the wall, I don’t understand why his name is even in this [NBA discussion],” the NBA agent said. “He did not have a great career in the pros. I don’t know where this is being generated from.
“I don’t know where it would come from an NBA person that that would be something they were interested in.”
Yet if the NCAA turns up the heat on Kentucky, Calipari may try even harder to get back to the NBA.
(Photo courtesy Reuters)
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.