Knicks not interested in John Calipari at moment, sources say

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Saturday, July 1, 2017

Kentucky Wildcats coach John Calipari has reached out to the New York Knicks through intermediaries to express interest in the team's vacant president of operations role, sources said Thursday.

The Knicks, who parted ways with Phil Jackson on Wednesday, do not have interest in Calipari at the moment, sources said.

Calipari, currently in Egypt coaching the U.S. team at the FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup, denied there were any talks, saying on Twitter:

On Friday morning, Calipari again denied contacting the Knicks during a phone interview on ESPN Radio's Mike and Mike.

"There is no one on my behalf who called the Knicks," Calipari said. "There might be a college coach who inquired, but it wasn't me. I called my wife and asked, "Was it you?"

Calipari later added, "In my mind, I've got the best job in the country," but he said it's the reality of his job that his name will come up. "I just can't see that there's anything out there that I'd want to leave for."

Kentucky said in March it had extended Calipari's deal by two years, through March 2024. He is set to make $7.75 million next season and $8 million per season thereafter. Calipari's deal also stipulates he would be paid $5 million for each year if Kentucky were to terminate the contract.

Last fall, Calipari told ESPN's Myron Medcalf that he wouldn't leave Kentucky before his son, walk-on Brad Calipari, concluded his career there. Brad will be a sophomore this season.

One of the most accomplished basketball coaches in NCAA history, Calipari coached the then-New Jersey Nets for parts of three seasons from 1996 to 1999 and has been linked to NBA openings in the past.

ESPN reported in 2014 that the Cleveland Cavaliers offered Calipari a 10-year contract worth nearly $80 million to be coach and team president. Shortly afterward, Kentucky signed Calipari to a new seven-year deal worth $52.5 million. The Cavs ended up hiring David Blatt as coach.

Knicks general manager Steve Mills is handling the club's day-to-day operations. New York's focus over the next few weeks will be on free agency, and not on a replacement for Jackson, league sources told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

That said, the Knicks are assembling a list of candidates for the vacant job.

Sources told Shelburne that ex-Cavaliers GM David Griffinhas had an initial conversation with the team about a front-office position and is expected to have more talks when the Knicks move to the next level in the process.

Another name mentioned internally as a candidate is Oklahoma City Thunder general manager Sam Presti, sources said. The Knicks likely would need to offer compensation to the Thunder for Presti, who is under contract.

The Knicks are not expected to ask permission to speak with Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri.

In addition, reports linked ex-Knicks president and coach Isiah Thomas to the team's presidency on Thursday, but Thomas wrote on Twitter that he was not interested in the position.

New York and Jackson announced Wednesday morning they had mutually agreed to part ways. Sources said conversations between Jackson and owner James Dolan about what was best for the team's future accelerated this week, when the franchise decided it would not buy out embattled forward Carmelo Anthony.

ESPN's Myron Medcalfand The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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