Update 1:11 pm It is becoming clear through multiple reports that Pitino — through intermediaries — went straight to incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov, bypassing the current Nets front office entirely. The pitch is he is a big name coach, has ties to New York and can help the team win and make a splash when it moves to Brooklyn. If Prokhorov wants a differing opinion on Pitino, he can stop any New Yorker on the street and ask.
Update 10:43 am Rick Pitino is now saying “Who? Me? Can’t be.” He told ESPN college hoops writer Pat Forde he has no interest in the job. That he never wants to coach in the NBA again. To which anybody who has followed Pitino’s opportunistic career says, “yea, right.” But this is why you have intermediaries do the outreach, so you can deny, deny, deny. Anyway, there you have the official line.
9:44 am And you thought nobody wanted to coach the New Jersey Nets. That things had gotten so bad they would just pluck a new coach out of a hat.
Never fear — Rick Pitino wants the job.
Sources close to Pitino said that the Louisville coach has reached out to Nets brass in recent days, making himself a candidate for the job now held by GM and interim coach Kiki Vandeweghe, and due to open after their woeful season is completed in April.
According to sources, Pitino had intermediaries recently contact Nets president Rod Thorn on his behalf. Thorn himself is in the final year of a contract, and is looking to get a new deal from incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
Another report has Pitino’s people reaching out to Prokhorov’s people directly. Ballsy.
The best part of this story — the Nets don’t want him. His reputation as, um, shady from his days coaching the Celtics precedes him. Pitino did take the Knicks to the playoffs both years he coached the team, but how he left and what he did in Boston damaged his NBA reputation.
The Nets have a short list of candidates, topped by current analyst (and another former Knicks coach) Jeff Van Gundy. Apparently Vandeweghe thinks the pace of play in the NBA is too fast. That or he can’t stand Van Gundy and Mark Jackson paired together, either.