John Calipari maintains he wouldn’t take Lakers’ job

In between a spiel on how to fix the NCAA and why he’s correct in embracing the so-called “one and done movement” in college basketball, Kentucky coach John Calipari offered something probably no other basketball coach ever say.

Would he say yes if the Lakers offered him a head-coaching job?

“No,” Calipari said on ESPN’s First Take. “I wouldn’t.”

That’s not what former Kentucky star Rex Chapman said, tweeting mere hours before the Wildcats NCAA finals loss to Connecticut that it was a “done deal” that he would coach the Lakers. The Lakers immediately refuted the revelation and Calipari provided the usual non-denial denial coaches offer when asked about a supposed job opening.

There’s a strong suspicion that Calipari, or at least those close to him, leaked such a nugget in hopes of securing a long-term extension with Kentucky. Calipari didn’t answer, or pretended not to hear, when ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith asked if he received a pay raise after that story. Instead, Calipari offered this post-game gem.

“After the game, I’m trying to be strong for my team and Anthony Davis and my guys are in there and they feel bad,” Calipari said. “One of them says, ‘Are you going to the Lakers? There’s a rumor you’re going to the Lakers.’ I was like, ‘No, but Anthony, will you come with me?”

The Lakers will not evaluate Mike D’Antoni’s future until the season ends on Wednesday against San Antonio, though the team is currently leaning toward retaining him. They fear his firing won’t necessarily solve their issues considering the Lakers’ worst finish in franchise history in Los Angeles also stemmed from numerous injuries and a talent-deprived roster. The Lakers also believe they would perpetuate a coaching carousal that has included four coaches in the past five years. It’s not clear when the Lakers will decide D’Antoni’s future, but it will be determined well before the NBA draft in late June.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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