Remain clam, Kentucky fans. John Calipari isn’t going to the NBA.
Unless he does.
“Well, you know, these things – they always say (they’re staying),” Lexington Herald Kentucky beat reporter Jerry Tipton said on The Morning Show. “The short answer is I don’t know. I do know that he’s going to have hip replacement surgery in May, and his son – his only son – will be a high school senior this coming year. It doesn’t seem like the best timing to be doing that. How that factors in, I don’t know. But he had a radio show – his own radio show – last night, and he was talking about next season. He was talking as if he will be back.”
Why do some people think he won’t be? About an hour before Monday’s national championship game, former Kentucky Wildcat and NBA veteran Rex Chapman tweeted that, according to sources, Calipari would leave UK after the season and become the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Things escalated quickly.
“He’s not around the program that much,” Tipton said, skeptical of Chapman’s claim. “And when I heard about it, my immediate thought was that he was relying on NBA contacts, that it was something he had learned or heard through NBA people or agents or something like that – not through Kentucky people or John Calipari.”
Calipari said after the game that he intends on returning to Lexington.
Unfortunately, most of his key players probably won’t be.
“Nobody has said anything, but the sense is that most of them won’t be back,” Tipton said. “Julius Randle, the Harrison twins (and) James Young will all go to the NBA, and maybe Willie Cauley-Stein. So they’ll be starting over again next year with another freshmen-oriented team.”
Speaking of Randle, what exactly happened to him in the national championship? He found himself on the bench three minutes into the game.
“Well, maybe he was overwhelmed by the setting and the pressure,” Tipton said. “I know other players – there’s so much nervous energy that you’re just exhausted before you even get started, and you just need time.”
Randle wound up playing 34 minutes, but he wasn’t as effective as he had been throughout the tournament – or the season in general. A double-double machine, Randle finished with just 10 points and six rebounds – this after averaging 15.8 points and 10.6 rebounds through the first five games of the tournament.
“I don’t think he was hurt,” Tipton said. “He had some problems with cramping earlier in the season, but that really hasn’t come up in quite a while. So I just have to think it was something to have to do with just nerves and just kind of an exhaustion that comes with getting overwrought with the whole thing.”