Last month, Rick Pitino said, “I’m not considering coaching, period” and, “It’s over for me.”
Apparently, you can’t trust him.
After his firing following an FBI probe at Louisville, Rick Pitino is planning to use the season to immerse himself in the NBA game and hopes to become a candidate for head-coaching openings in the spring.
“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 think the league is going to get younger and player development will become even more important to every organization. That’s my forte. I believe I can help an organization find a pathway to success.”
Pitino did a solid job coaching the Knicks in the late 80s and was a wreck running and coaching the Celtics in the 1990s. He hasn’t worked in the NBA since.
It’d be shocking if he gets hired. Some NBA decision-makers could get past his numerous scandals, but his recent record of player development is hardly impressive. Players like Donovan Mitchell and Terry Rozier didn’t really flourish until leaving Louisville for the NBA.
That said, if there’s an NBA job for Pitino, it might be in Cleveland. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has shown an affinity for college coaches. Florida’s Billy Donovan (now with the Thunder), Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Kansas’ Bill Self and Kentucky’s John Calipari were all linked to the Cavs before they hired David Blatt in 2014. Now, Cleveland is having trouble even getting an interim coach to commit after firing Tyronn Lue. I don’t think the Cavaliers would hire Pitino, but if I were a Cleveland fan, I’d also be concerned about the possibility.