Rick Pitino had seemed resigned to being done coaching, but now he is trying to put himself in the mix for an NBA job.
Rick Pitino was fired at Louisville as an FBI probe descended on his program and college basketball as a whole. In September, essentially a year later, he seemed to accept he was done coaching while acknowledging his agent had kept him in the loop when NBA openings surfaced. Now, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Pitino is hoping to become a candidate for NBA head coaching openings in the spring.
Even with a great resume, and his pleas of ignorance to what was going on at Louisville, Pitino is a tainted commodity in college basketball. Most recent on his NBA resume is an ill-conceived stint as coach and president of the Boston Celtics, with a 102-146 record over less than four seasons when he resigned.
Pitino did have some success as head coach of the New York Knicks in the late 80’s, with a .549 winning percentage, two playoff berths in as many seasons and an Atlantic Division title in 1988-89.
Questions of how much control he’d want will follow Pitino into any consideration for an NBA head coaching job, as the dual role of coach and front office lead has largely disappeared in recent years. But he has dismissed that idea he wants any personnel power, according to Woj’s ESPN piece.
"I just want to be a part of an organization,” Pitino told ESPN. “I want to develop young players. I want to be part of a team. I miss it terribly. I’m using this time to really study the NBA. If something opens up with a young basketball team, I’d have deep interest in it."
"I’m not looking for any of that [power/control] at this stage of my life, “I want to develop teams and develop players and build a winner. I value analytics. I want to fit into an organization. At this stage, that’s all I’m interested in.”"
Pitino has hired high-profile NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus to represent him. Rosenhaus’ company represents two NBA players, Montrezl Harrell and Anfernee Simons, but having Rosenhaus as his agent feels mostly like a publicity play from Pitino to convey seriousness about a return to coaching.
With his change of heart on to coaching again within the span of fewer than two months, Pitino simply may not know what he wants. The bigger question will be if NBA teams will want him, and a confirmation of his initial sentiment about never coaching again feels most likely.