John Calipari Praises Leon Rose, Says He Won't Coach Knicks

The Kentucky Coach Is Still Resisting The NBA's Call

Alex Greenberg
February 07, 2020 - 2:19 pm

John Calipari has been linked with NBA jobs for years since he returned to college, but he hasn’t jumped up back to the pros yet.

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Calipari is close friends with Leon Rose, who the Knicks are reportedly going to hire to be their next team president. Calipari spoke Friday before his Kentucky team’s game against Tennessee, and he told the press that he would support Rose in any way he could, with the exception of coaching.

“I've never heard in 25 years anybody say a bad word about Leon Rose. Not one," said Calipari. "He's a gatherer, he's a culture-builder. I understand why [the Knicks] would do it if they do that [hire Rose]. Because I'm so close, I'd help him in any way I could being a resource. It just wouldn't be to coach."

The legendary college coach knows Rose as Rose has been a big-time agent in basketball for a long time. Calipari added that he hasn’t spoken to Rose and doesn’t know if his friend will end up taking the Knicks job.

Ashton Hagans and Nate Sestina of the Kentucky Wildcats talk with head coach John Calipari of the during the second half against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Rupp Arena on February 4, 2020 in Lexington, Kentucky.
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

It has kind of been put on the back burner since the firing of Steve Mills, but the Knicks will still also need a new head coach eventually. It doesn’t seem like Mike Miller will be anything more than an interim fix.

This isn’t the first time that Calipari has been connected to the Knicks. Calipari links to the NBA are common, and so are coaching vacancies at Madison Square Garden.

At the moment, Kentucky has a 17-5 record and is ranked by the Associated Press as the No. 15 team in the country. Calipari has kept the Wildcats as perennial contenders in college basketball despite often losing players to the NBA draft after just a year or two with the program. His only national title came back in 2012 with a squad that was led by Anthony Davis.

The Knicks have won three games in a row, but there will still need to be a significant reshuffling of the coaching staff after the season. James Dolan will be looking for a coach who is willing to be patient with what has been a frustrating rebuilding effort for the franchise.