When John Calipari said he had the “best job in the country,” he must have really meant it.
The University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach tweeted those words last Thursday after signing a seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension to remain in Lexington.
Yet it seems there were greener pastures for Calipari, who was offered a 10-year deal worth nearly $80 million by the Cleveland Cavaliers to be the team’s head coach and president, NBA sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein.
According to the report, the Cavaliers’ plan behind their lucrative offer to Calipari was the hope that the coach could entice Miami Heat star LeBron James — who enters free agency this summer and is a good friend of Calipari — to return to Cleveland next season.
The Cavaliers also reportedly extended an offer to University of Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie, but Ollie turned them down as well, signing a five-year, $15 million extension with UConn on May 19.
Calipari and Ollie squared off in this year’s NCAA championship game, and while the Huskies emerged victorious, it marked the third Final Four appearance for Calipari’s Wildcats in five seasons. The 55-year-old coach has a 152-37 record since coming to Kentucky in 2009.
With two of college basketball’s marquee head coaches off the market, owner Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers will turn to the NBA ranks. According to the Associated Press, Cleveland will bring in former Cavaliers guard Mark Price and Los Angeles Clippers assistant coach Alvin Gentry for interviews later this week.