Before finalizing a contract extension with the University of Kentucky late last week, John Calipari had gone deep in discussions with the Cleveland Cavaliers on a seven-year, $60 million-plus contract to become president and coach, sources told Yahoo Sports.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had been persistent in his pursuit and kept returning to Calipari in an effort to deliver full control of basketball operations, sources said.
Wait, what? John Calipari was not a name that we had really heard as a serious possibility for the Cavs coaching job. But there's more the story than just that. $60 million? Gilbert's pockets are deep, and he wants to win. Given that he still owes Mike Brown a bunch of money after firing him after only one season, this is pretty impressive.
But there's more to it than just that. Gilbert was ready to give Calipari full control over basketball operations? What about new general manager David Griffin?
If Calipari had gone to Cleveland, the plan would've been for new general manager David Griffin to work with Calipari in the front office, but he would've ceded final decisions on personnel matters to Calipari, sources said.
If the report is true, you have to wonder how Griffin feels about all of this. He accepted the job just recently, and talked in his introductory press conference of working in collaborative fashion with Gilbert in the hiring process of bringing a coach in. Gilbert negotiating with Calipari and unilaterally giving away Griffin's authority so quick in the process is a bit worrying.
Wojnarowski reported that the Cavaliers have also talked to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, and Florida coach Billy Donovan throughout the process. It wasn't clear if Griffin was involved in those efforts.
In a vacuum, this could be good for the Cavaliers. Calipari flamed out in his only coaching job with the New Jersey Nets, and giving him full control over basketball decisions would be quite the risk. This gives the Cavaliers the chance to give a young guy a look, or maybe circle back to a coach like George Karl.
In the meantime, though, we have more evidence of an owner that is very much involved making basketball decisions.