Source: LeBron-Cal deal not on radar
A source with direct knowledge of the Chicago Bulls front office’s
plans says the team believes it has the right players in place —
namely, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng — to surround LeBron
James when it makes its case with the free agent-to-be on July 1.
But the source said there has been no discussion of bringing Kentucky
coach John Calipari in with James as part of a package deal.
The Chicago Tribune reported Monday that according to league sources, basketball power broker William Wesley — a friend of both James and Calipari — has been quietly contacting NBA teams that have coaching vacancies and salary-cap space about the possibility of bringing in James and Calipari together.
But the source with knowledge of the Bulls front office’s thinking insisted that the team hasn’t been approached about packaging Calipari to get James to come to Chicago. The source also said that bringing Calipari along to get James would lessen Calipari’s status in the locker room, because of the perception that he was James’ handpicked coach.
Another league source told the Tribune that another person, described as an "unknown Calipari connection," contacted the Bulls over the weekend.
However, ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard reported Monday on "SportsCenter" that according to his sources, James is not demanding Calipari coach him on whichever team he plays for next season. And a source close to Wesley told ESPN.com that Wesley had not contacted the Bulls or any other team about a James/Calipari package deal.
A source with knowledge of the Los Angeles Clippers’ thinking denied there had been any contact with Wesley or any other inquiries about Calipari. The source called the report linking Wesley to the Clippers "inaccurate." Another Western Conference front-office executive questioned the validity of the story, telling ESPNLosAngeles.com via text message, "Nobody’s buying that."
Calipari has publicly stated that he is coaching at Kentucky next season.
NBA teams cannot formally contact free agents until the league signing period starts at 12:01 a.m. ET on July 1.
James and Calipari have become friends through their mutual friendship with Wesley, who is considered one of the most powerful men in basketball. Wesley is part of the "family" that James referred to repeatedly in his postgame comments after the Celtics knocked James’ Cleveland Cavaliers out of the playoffs. Wesley was also reportedly involved in steering Rose and Tyreke Evans to Memphis when Calipari was coaching there.
Calipari, who completed his first season at Kentucky this year, said Friday on his Twitter feed that he will remain in Lexington to coach the Wildcats in 2010-11.