Storyline: Jay Wright to the NBA?

18 rumors in this storyline

Mike Vorkunov: As for Jay Wright, here’s what he told @DanaONeilWriter this week about jumping to the NBA. O’Neil: Before we move on to how those decisions could impact your team, what about you? Do you have any interest in moving on to the NBA? Jay Wright: I’m staying. I love it here. I love what we’re doing. I’m just really happy. I said when I was at Hofstra and I didn’t take other jobs, I used that old Jim Valvano line, Don’t mess with happy. That seemed appropriate at Hofstra until this job opened. It’s still really appropriate. I’m very happy here. I don’t need another challenge. I like happy better than a new challenge. The NBA does intrigue me. That challenge is appealing, but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.

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Peter Vecsey: Rivers is guaranteed to go, it says here. A revamped roster in mid-February dictates a demand for a new voice with new ideas with a new image. Owner Steve Ballmer, who inherited Rivers when he purchased the Clippers and gave him lots of leeway, has had plenty of time to figure out Doc is a stone phony. He took away one title (president) from him prior to this season. The time has come to relieve him of his coaching duties, pay him the $10M owed for next season, and offer Villanova’s Jay Wright a blank check. GM Lawrence Franks’ second choice, I’m told, is Jeff Van Gundy.

If Wright has NBA aspirations, he should make the move soon. He is 56 years old, he’s got the energy, and an NBA team worth going to will close to double his current $2.6 million salary (money does always matter). Wright is going to have teams reaching out this summer, but he’s also in a position to be a bit picky — he doesn’t have to take the first offer to come his way if he doesn’t trust management and ownership. Which is what he’s done in the past, he’s gotten calls and brushed them aside. Most publicly, thee Suns reportedly reached out in 2016 (after Villanova’s previous NCAA title) and he turned them down.

In that moment, it was apparent why it will not be easy — or cheap — for an NBA team to attempt to pry Wright away from Villanova. Wright is truly happy living 30 miles from where he grew up, working for administrators he respects and admires and above all else building meaningful relationships with the players he coaches. “I have the best job in the country,” Wright said. “I just love going to work every day. Our guys graduate. You see these kids are great to coach. As a coach, there’s just nothing better.”

Wright told ESPN.com that despite speculation to the contrary, he has not been offered any other jobs and if he were, his plan would be to turn them down. He did, however, leave the door at least ajar. “I can say right now that in my mind I plan to stay at Villanova,” he said. “But I also don’t want to be a liar. I want to stay. I know I want to stay, but I just say I hope I can stay because I’ve learned from the past how crazy things can be. I hope I can stay at Villanova because this is where I want to be.”

Probably not. After all, the perfume is everywhere. It is on the wind that circles him now as he is rumored to be a candidate for NBA coaching jobs again, rumored to be in line for this or that, if he only chooses to turn his head. For the moment, he says he is looking straight ahead. “I would like to do this again,” Wright said. “But you understand you might not get that chance. In sports, you might not. We just have to define success the same way we did this year. If we’re the best team we can possibly be at the end of the year, then we’ve done everything we can do.”

Cataldi asked the Churville, PA native one more time: You wouldn’t even listen? “I hope not,” Wright reiterated. “I said that in ’09 and they came at you with stuff and you’re like, ‘Woah!’ You gotta stop for a second. I don’t want too — you hope they don’t offer you, that’s what it is. ‘Cause I love my job. I love it here. I’m very happy here, I’m well taken care of at Villanova, I love living in Philly — my family is from here. I feel so — you know in college basketball you never get to coach where you live.

“If you yell at Kobe Bryant, tell him to dive on the ball, I’m not too sure if he would go down for the ball,” junior guard Josh Hart said. “It’s hard with the NBA because you have so many egos, but for the right teams, he’d be good. You see Brad Stevens and what he’s been doing with the Celtics. They’re a young group of guys, kind of like a college team, just going out and playing as hard as they can, helping each other out, stepping up for each other.”
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April 21, 2018 | 10:03 pm EDT Update