COLUMBIA, SC - MARCH 01: Julius Randle #30 tries to calm Head Coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats following a technical foul on Calipari during their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Colonial Life Arena on March 1, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina.
(Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

John Calipari’s connections to the New York Knicks are obvious, but two of his former players don’t see the coach making the leap to the NBA.

Danny Small

TARRYTOWN, NY—The New York Knicks are expected to make a big splash with their next coaching hire. “Marketing guru” Steve Stoute is already writing off interim head coach Mike Miller and his coaching staff. The organization and Stoute quickly walked back the comments he made on ESPN’s “First Take” and chalked it up to a mishap on live television. Still, the words cannot be unsaid.

One big name on the horizon is John Calipari.

The longtime University of Kentucky head coach has numerous connections to the Knicks, including a close friendship with incoming president Leon Rose. Not to mention, Calipari coached Julius Randle and Kevin Knox during their one-year stints in Lexington.

“Yeah, I talked to him yesterday. He said he’s coming,” Randle joked. “Make sure you tell him I said that,” Randle added, clearly having fun at his former coach’s expense.

“He’s sitting on a pretty high throne in Kentucky and I think he’s very comfortable there, but I can’t speak for him. Just looking from the outside in, I think he’s living great in Kentucky right now and they’re doing great,” Randle said.

Randle clearly loves to poke fun at his old coach, but there’s little belief that he’s leaving Kentucky anytime soon. Knox echoed that sentiment during his media availability and feels that when Calipari says something, he means it.

“When Cal says he’s not going to do something, he’s pretty solid he’s not going to do it,” Knox said. Calipari told Kentucky reporters last week that he has no intention of leaving Lexington to try and be the Messiah for the Knicks.

“I mean, Cal, he loves Kentucky man,” Knox added. “He runs that state. The fans love him there and he’s got the basketball program on lock there so I don’t think he would leave that opportunity to keep helping kids get to the NBA. That’s something he really loves to do. I think when he said he wasn’t going to do it, I think he’s kind of sold on it.”

There’s the rub with Calipari. Knox seems confident that he’s in Kentucky for the long haul and Randle thought the notion of Cal coming to New York is so outlandish that he’s comfortable making jokes about it.

While Knicks fans shouldn’t expect Calipari to man the sidelines anytime soon, the idea of a new coaching staff coming in after the season still seems like a legitimate possibility. Interim head coach Mike Miller is 13-19 after inheriting a 4-18 team in December, but it might not be enough to save him with a new regime taking over.

News & Notes

  • Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, and Moe Harkless are sick, but all four players are probable for Wednesday’s game against the Washington Wizards (7:30 p.m. ET), the team’s last game before the All-Star break.
  • RJ Barrett is the only Knick heading to Chicago for All-Star weekend. The 19-year-old rookie will be taking part in Friday’s Rising Stars Game (9 p.m. ET) alongside fellow rookie phenoms Zion Williamson and Ja Morant.
NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.