Self, Calipari: No calls from NBA

ByAndy Katz ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kentucky's John Calipari and Kansas' Bill Self told ESPN on Monday that it'd be extremely difficult for either to leave their current high-profile college jobs for an NBA opening, and both added that they haven't been contacted during this latest coaching carousel.

"They haven't talked to me about a coaching position,'' Self said on ESPNU's College Basketball podcast. "There's nothing going on and that doesn't bother me one bit.

"I think I've got a better situation than a lot of the franchises in the league. People may think that's hard to believe, but they haven't been here or know what's gone on here. Very content where I am."

Self has been at Kansas since 2003, winning the national title in 2008.

Multiple media reports have linked Florida's Billy Donovan, Iowa State's Fred Hoiberg, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and UConn's Kevin Ollie to various NBA openings over the past month.

Donovan has commented recently at SEC meetings that he had been in contact with NBA teams and didn't want to guarantee a return to Florida in large part because he didn't want to lie if something did occur.

Ollie signed a five-year contract last month with the Huskies, doubling his salary to $2.8 million ($3 million with incentives) after winning the national title in April.

Izzo said on the ESPNU podcast last month that he would be back at Michigan State.

Calipari was coach of the then-New Jersey Nets from 1996-97 to 1998-99 after taking UMass to the Final Four in '96. He also served as an assistant with the Sixers in 1999-2000 before going to Memphis and then arriving at Kentucky in 2009.

The Wildcats won the national title in 2012, went to the Final Four in 2011 and '14 and the Elite Eight in 2010, and have missed the NCAA tournament only once -- in 2013.

"I'm really, really excited what we've got going at Kentucky," said Calipari, who could have the preseason No. 1 team again with the return of starters Andrew and Aaron Harrison, as well as Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson and a top-five recruiting class led by Karl Towns Jr. and Trey Lyles.

"I believe that I have the best job in the country. I'm not out there looking for another job. It's not what I want. Do I talk to NBA teams? I always do. I will talk to NBA teams based on the fact my players are trying to be drafted. But I'm not out looking for a job. I'm not encouraging anybody to call me. I don't need it to get a pay raise or any of that stuff. I'm good where I am."

Calipari said he had a different attitude when he was at Memphis and UMass.

"It took me 20 years to get this job,'' Calipari said. "I'm in no hurry.''

Self said it would be extremely difficult to deal with losing in the NBA.

"It would be hard,'' Self said. "From an ego standpoint, we all are used to winning and we like to win. We went 25-10 this year and it sucked. I say that jokingly. We haven't lost 10 games in one season in 14 or 15 years [at Tulsa in 1999], something like that, since my second year at Tulsa or maybe longer than that. Can you imagine losing 50 or 60 games in a year?

"I'm not saying never, but certainly this is a pretty good situation."

Calipari said it would be too drastic a change.

"You're changing your profession is what you're doing,'' Calipari said. "I'm not 35 anymore. In the NBA, it's going to be something different that moves you, not what you do for families. It's a different deal. It's a totally different profession. I've gone through it once. I think they fired me if I remember right. It was a great experience. But it was a different profession."

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