Source: Bulls Haven't Heard From John Calipari ... Yet
But while Calipari could indeed wind up being given the position and perhaps maybe even luring the likes of LeBron James to the Windy City, a source close to the Bulls said that storyline hasn't even started yet. According to the source, the Bulls are unaware whether Calipari has interest and neither he nor his representative nor even back-channel colleagues had made his interest known as of earlier Wednesday.
Asked if Calipari would be a candidate after Vinny Del Negro was fired Monday, the source left the answer open-ended, saying "Everybody's a candidate right now."
Yet if Calipari does look to re-enter the NBA for the first time since he was fired after three seasons in New Jersey in 1998, it wouldn't be hard to see why. In addition to the $4 million or so annual salary the Bulls would likely have to pay him to leave Kentucky after one season, they could offer a chance to reunite with his former Memphis point guard in Derrick Rose. What's more, Calipari appears to be one of the few coaches who just might influence James' eventual decision in free agency.
The two have reportedly grown close in recent years, with the infamous operator, William "Wes" Wesley playing a part in that newfound friendship. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Brian Windhorst, Cleveland in 2005 talked unofficially to Calipari about their head coaching position after consulting with Wesley on the idea.
As for the James crystal ball, he remains noncommittal about his outlook and this postseason will certainly play a part. Yet even before the Cavs were routed in Game 2 Monday to even their series with Boston 1-1, James -- ironically enough -- was waxing poetic about his love for Chi-town.
His comments came in response to Joakim Noah's anti-Cleveland rantings during the Bulls' first-round series with Cleveland, and James shared the fact that he spent three summers in high school working out at Michael Jordan's facility and later made Chicago a frequent vacation spot in the offseason.
"It's an awesome city," James said. "Great restaurants, great shopping. ... I have nothing bad (to say) about Chicago, and I'm not saying that because of what he said about Cleveland. I'm dead serious."
It remains to be seen how serious Calipari is about Chicago. In response to the Yahoo! Sports report, he has professed his happiness at Kentucky and school officials promptly followed with a proclamation that they're attempting to give him a raise. Calipari did not return a call to his phone from FanHouse.
The source close to the Bulls indicated their search will be a slow one, with every reason to think the pace is the team's intentional attempt to either wait for candidates like Calipari or get a better sense from prospective free agents what they might want -- or who -- in a coach.
Needless to say, an already-interesting offseason may soon be even more so.
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