Former Louisville head coach Rick Pitino plans to use the 2018/19 season to “immerse himself” in the NBA game in the hopes of returning to the league’s coaching ranks, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Wojnarowski details, Pitino would like to become a candidate for NBA head coaching positions that open up in the spring of 2019.
“I just want to be a part of an organization,” Pitino told Wojnarowski. “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,” Pitino continued. “That’s my forte. I believe I can help an organization find a pathway to success.”
Pitino’s time at Louisville came to an abrupt end about a year ago as a result of the FBI’s probe into college basketball recruiting. Pitino had spent most of the last two decades heading up the program, having previously coached the Celtics from 1997 to 2001.
We heard as recently as September that Pitino appeared to have given up on the idea of returning to the NBA — he admitted in his book, “Pitino: My Story,” that his agent had reached out to NBA teams but had generated no interest. The veteran coach seems to be approaching the idea with renewed enthusiasm now though, with Wojnarowski reporting that Pitino has hired NFL super-agent Drew Rosenhaus to represent him.
Even if NBA front offices overlook the multiple scandals that took place at Louisville during Pitino’s tenure, it will likely be difficult for him to convince an NBA team that he’d be a “willing partner with a front office,” Wojnarowski writes. According to Woj, multiple GMs say they’d be reluctant to hire Pitino due to concern about coexisting with him, especially during a rebuilding process. For his part, Pitino is saying the right things.
“I’m not looking for any of that [power/control] at this stage of my life,” Pitino told Wojnarowski. “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.”