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Popper: Why not Calipari?

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Lionel Hollins has three more guaranteed years as Nets coach, at $4 million or better, part of an $18 million (fully guaranteed) contract.. The Nets want to build around the veteran coach who had great success in Memphis ... but little so far in Brooklyn.  There's no indication he's in trouble.

Moreover, it could very well be disastrous for the Nets to dump him and hire their fifth coach in five years. Neither NBA coaches nor free agents are going to be attracted to a franchise that fickle. As Deron Williams has said, the constant change in coaches and staffs is a big factor in the Nets long- running problems.

But let's say ownership wanted to make (another) change. Steve Popper, the Record's longtime basketball writer, thinks he has just the man for the job: John Calipari.  And he quotes someone close to Calipari saying he wants it, wants back in the NBA, the only place he failed, as coach of the New Jersey Nets in the 1990's.

"He desperately wants it," an NBA front office official told Popper, talking about an NBA job. "He won’t say it out loud. The NBA is the only place he’s ever failed and it drives him nuts. He’s not the same guy he was then. He came to the NBA and he wasn’t ready. He’s ready now."

Ian O'Connor of ESPN says the same in a highly detailed --and compelling-- account of where Calipari failed in his first round with the Nets, quoting him as telling associates, "Can you believe I got fired there?"  O'Connor quotes Calipari's 2009 book, "Bounce Back."

Calipari, of course, is busy, but he does have a lot of connections to the Nets. It was only last week that his pal Brett Yormark announced that Kentucky would open the revamped Nassau Coliseum in 2016, just as the Wildcats were the first college team to play at Barclays Center.

But a LOT would have to happen for Calipari to return to the Nets and those wheels are not in motion ... yet.