Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday morning that the team is interested in Calipari and said the two sides had been in contact.
After the release of Wojnarowski's report on Tuesday morning, Calipari took to Twitter to dismiss the rumors with a series of tweets, affirming some of his discussions with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, whose ear he appears to have. Calipari admitted he and Ranadive have had ongoing talks about DeMarcus Cousins, Calipari's former player at Kentucky, as well as this year's draft and Kings first-round selection Willie Cauley-Stein.
The coach remained emphatic that he would be staying in Lexington and that Ranadive has not offered him any position with the franchise.
The Kings have gone through front office upheaval in the past year, with the hiring of vice president Vlade Divac and later the departure of general manager Pete D'Alessandro as well as two coaching changes: Mike Malone was fired and replaced by interim coach Tyrone Corbin in December, and current coach George Karl was hired in February.
For the 100th time, I have the best basketball coaching position in the world. I am not looking for any other coaching position.— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) June 30, 2015
Given the heavily reported discord between Kings center Cousins and Karl, Sacramento's front office has reportedly grown interested in Calipari, who recruited and then coached the All-Star big man in 2009-10, believing he can convince his former protegé to stick around. Cousins has interest in being dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, according to reports. Ranadive has “talked extensively” with Calipari about how best to handle the mercurial Cousins, according to Wojnarowski.
The Kings have been gauging Calipari's interest in recent weeks, according to the report, with Vivek Ranadive among those communicating with the coach. Scenarios have reportedly been floated where Calipari would have “complete control” of basketball operations as well as coaching.
While no formal offer has been made, according to Wojnarowski it would take upward of $10 million a year to pry Calipari away from Lexington, where he helms one of college basketball's most storied programs and holds a cushy coaching position. He's been linked to NBA jobs in the past, including the Cleveland Cavaliers last off-season and the New Orleans Pelicans (who hired Alvin Gentry). Last year, Calipari signed a seven-year, $54 million extension to coach the Wildcats.
Sacramento drafted Kentucky center Cauley-Stein with the sixth pick in last week's NBA draft. Ranadive reportedly “communicated” with Calipari about the selection.
According to Wojnarowski's report, the Kings are searching for ways to terminate Karl for “cause” and get out from under the three years and nearly $10 million they owe him guaranteed. That would be based around Karl's behind-the-scenes machinations to deal Cousins.
As one league official familiar with Ranadive's mindset told Yahoo! Sports, “He's trying to find a magic button to push that'll fix everything.”
Calipari has compiled a record of 190-87 at Kentucky, winning a national title in 2012 and appearing in four Final Fours.
This post has been updated to reflect the statements made by John Calipari on his Twitter account.
- Jeremy Woo