Rick Pitino

And-Ones: Dudley, Season, Pitino, Silver

As the NBA and NBPA continue discussions on when next season should begin, veteran forward Jared Dudley took to social media and voiced his own opinion on the matter, explaining why any proposal that limits the 2020/21 schedule to 50 games shouldn’t be considered by either side.

“Can’t play 50 games .. Thats a hard no for the players!” Dudley wrote. “Has to be a min of 72.. the real question is what change in a week? The league kept saying January January.. Everybody knew how big Christmas was and Olympics being late July months ago.. TV just mentioned it now??

The NBA is offering a proposal that allows next season to start as early as December 22, one that multiple high-level players have resisted to date. according to Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes (Twitter link). The players’ union prefers to start on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 18), but one report suggested the league would only offer a 50-game season if players insist on that start date. As of Friday, no 50-game proposal had been formally put forth.

By lowering the number of games played from 82 to 50, the salaries of players would be drastically reduced. However, by starting the season too soon, the league may risk the health of its players who recently played in Orlando — the Finals ended only three weeks ago.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • New Iona coach Rick Pitino remains intent on coaching the Greek national team during next June’s qualifiers, he told Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Pitino first announced his intention of coaching the team in November of 2019.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver will have to find a way to balance revenue with safety entering next season, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. It’s unclear how the league plans to proceed in terms of fan attendance, with the absence of spectators naturally costing a significant loss in revenue. Outside of attendance, both the NBA and NBPA have yet to reach agreement on when next season should begin.

And-Ones: Courtside Camaraderie, Pitino, Shaw, Offseason

With no guarantee that fans will be allowed in arenas for the upcoming 2020/21 NBA season, Harvey Araton of the New York Times discussed the tenuous future of courtside seating. Regular Knicks courtside celebrity Spike Lee appeared uncertain of the fate of indoor NBA fan attendance.

“I’m not going to predict the future — taking it day by day,” Lee texted Araton. “I have to see where we are in the world when the next NBA season starts.”

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • The remote meetings necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic are largely responsible for Iona’s eight-player recruiting class, according to the Gaels’ new head coach, Rick Pitino. “If it wasn’t for [COVID-19], we couldn’t have brought in the largest recruiting class in my history as a basketball coach,” Pitino said, per Adam Zagoria of Forbes. “I think six out of the eight did not know where Iona was, what county or what state it was in. So COVID helped us in recruiting.”
  • G League Ignite team head coach Brian Shaw spoke with The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears about the unique opportunities provided him with this newly formed club, which will help prepare top prospects like Jalen Green for the NBA. “High draft picks come in at 18, 19, 20 years old, and there’s an expectation level for them to play and to impact the team,” Shaw said. “And it felt like a lot of the guys [were] missing a lot. They’re talented and have a lot of potential, but have no understanding of what it takes to be a pro on and off the court.”
  • A panel of ESPN writers appraised the biggest trade and free agency questions facing the league heading into this offseason. Key topics include the impending decision of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo regarding a five-year, super-max extension, the question of whether or not the Warriors will trade the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, and the fate of Chris Paul.

And-Ones: Belgian League, Clark, Pitino, NCAA Brackets

Belgium’s EuroMillions League has canceled the rest of its season in an effort to curtail the rampant spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, according to Sportando’s Nicola Lupo.

The EuroMillions League has named the team with the best record (13-4), FILOU Oostende, as its national champion. This is an intriguing step, and one several other leagues (like the NCAA) have yet to implement.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Wes Clark, a guard for Italy’s Serie A League team Pallacanestro Cantù, has returned home to the U.S. from Italy following the suspension of the season, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The 6’0″ Clark is an alum of Missouri and Buffalo.
  • Newly-minted Iona College head coach Rick Pitino still intends to coach Greece’s national team for the June Olympic qualifier in British Columbia, Pitino told Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Prior to his NCAA return, Pitino had served as head coach of the Greek EuroLeague club Panathinaikos since 2018.
  • The NCAA has decided not to release what would have been this year’s March Madness brackets, Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reports (Twitter link). NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt emailed all coaches relaying this decision. “To be clear, this is my decision,” Gavitt said in his message. “The basketball committees support and concur.”

And-Ones: Mannion, Beilein, WNBA, Pitino

Arizona point guard Nico Mannion, one of the top college players in the country, has not made a decision on whether or not his first season as a Wildcat will be his last, despite reports to the contrary, per Sam Vecenie of The Athletic (Twitter link).

“He will make that decision after the season,” the 19-year-old’s father Pace Mannion told Vecenie on March 8. With the NCAA season officially canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that determination may be coming up sooner than the Mannion family was anticipating.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • After resigning as Cavaliers head coach last month, John Beilein was hired as an analyst for the Big Ten Network studio team ahead of the anticipated start of the Big Ten Conference Tournament and March Madness, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. With the NCAA season canceled, Beilein may not have much to analyze for a while. Though Beilein is the winningest coach in Michigan basketball history, he struggled in the NBA, coaching the Cavaliers to a 14-40 record during 2019/20.
  • Rick Pitino will return to college coaching at Iona College, per Forbes’ Adam Zagoria.“My passion in basketball started in New York and will end there at Iona College,” Pitino said. Pitino has been coaching Greek EuroLeague club Panathinaikos since 2018. He last coached in the NCAA for the University of Louisville from 2001-2017.
  • WNBA executive director Terri Jackson spoke with Mark Medina of USA Today about the coronavirus and president Donald Trump’s travel ban precluding foreign nationals from traveling to the US from most European countries. Several WNBA players spend their offseasons overseas to supplement their earnings with more lucrative paydays from the international leagues. “Understanding [President Trump’s European] travel ban and understanding what came out of the White House is tough to grapple with,” Jackson told Medina.

And-Ones: LaMelo, Scouting, Pitino, Schedule Changes

LaMelo Ball is the top prospect for the 2020 draft, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. American fans haven’t seen much of the youngest Ball brother because he’s playing in Australia’s National Basketball League, but he’s making a strong impression on NBA scouts.

According to Givony, Ball’s assets include unusual size for a point guard at 6’7″, along with “impressive creativity, flair, poise and instincts operating off a live dribble.” He can pass with either hand and is especially skilled on the pick-and-roll. To improve his game, Givony believes Ball needs to become a more efficient scorer and show a stronger commitment to defense, but he still has the potential to become a franchise-altering player.

The rest of the top five includes Memphis center James Wiseman, Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, North Carolina guard Cole Anthony and combo guard R.J. Hampton, who is also playing in the ABL.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • This week normally marks the unofficial beginning of scouting season, but that’s changing because of the concept of “flight risk,” writes former league executive John Hollinger of The Athletic. Team officials who may be planning a trip to Australia to see Ball or Hampton in late December or January are taking the risk that they could shut down their seasons early to avoid injury if they believe their status as a high lottery pick is secure.
  • Some of the top players in Greece are refusing to play for the national team as long as Rick Pitino is the head coach of Panathinaikos, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Former NBA player Kostas Papanikolaou joined with Georgios Printezis and Antonis Koniaris to write a letter to the Greek federation, protesting Pitino’s recent return to their arch-rival and calling the situation “toxic.” Greece hasn’t earned a spot in the Olympics and will be part of a qualifying tournament in June.
  • Instead of making radical changes to the schedule and the playoffs, the NBA needs to do a better job of promoting its current product, contends Michael Lee of The Athletic. He observes that the league has large number of  “skilled, likable and marketable stars,” along with many international players to attract an overseas audience. Lee opposes a shortened schedule and an in-season tournament, and points out that reason behind declining ratings is that it’s easier than ever for fans to enjoy the league through highlights on social media without dedicating the time to watch a full game.

And-Ones: Africa, Pitino, Olympic Qualifiers

Last night’s matchup between the Sixers and Raptors highlighted the growing influence Africa is having on the NBA, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam both hail from Cameroon and were discovered through Basketball Without Borders.

“Just to have two guys who are on separate teams but at the top of their teams means everything,” Siakam said. “It just shows the amount of talent we have on the continent, and for Cameroon, it’s a blessing and we’re excited about it. To represent our country at such a high level, it’s amazing.”

Zillgitt notes that 12 African players made opening-night rosters and nearly 10% of the league has at least one parent who was born there. The NBA will continue to expand its outreach to the continent, with the Basketball Africa League scheduled to begin in March.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA and NCAA coach Rick Pitino has returned to Panathinaikos on a two-year contract, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Pitino led his team to the Greek Cup title last year as coach and team president, but left this summer in hopes of returning to the NBA.
  • The Olympic Qualifying Draw will take place tomorrow for teams that haven’t already secured a spot in the 2020 games, and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic knows that his nation’s path will be much smoother if it doesn’t have to face Slovenia with Luka Doncic. “There’s a lot at stake, and obviously it would be easier for us if we don’t play against him,” Bogdanovic said in an interview with Zurnal.rs (translated by Carchia). “But on the other hand we would love to see Doncic playing Olympic qualifiers here.” Belgrade will be among the four host cities for the tournaments, along with Victoria, Canada; Split, Croatia; and Kaunas, Lithuania.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks identifies a few under-the-radar moves that have made a difference in the first month of the season, including the Wizards adding Davis Bertans and Moritz Wagner, the Heat keeping Goran Dragic, the Suns getting better-than-expected contributions from Aron Baynes and Jevon Carter, the Thunder landing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the impressive coaching jobs by Monty Williams in Phoenix and Ryan Saunders in Minnesota.

Rick Pitino Wants To Return To The NBA

Rick Pitino has declined a chance to return to his team in Greece and is hoping for another shot at the NBA, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Pitino confirmed that he has turned down an offer from Panathinaikos after leading the team to the Greek Cup title while serving as both coach and president. He will spend the summer trying to land an NBA job, either as a coach, a player personnel specialist or an advisor.

Pitino, 66, spent two years as head coach of the Knicks in the 1980s, then returned to the NBA with the Celtics nearly a decade later. He won a division title in New York and took the team to the playoffs in both seasons, but was less successful in Boston, resigning during the 2000/01 season and citing the difficulty of handling both coaching and front office responsibilities. His career record as an NBA coach is 192-220.

He is best known for his success in college, where he took teams to seven Final Fours and won titles at Kentucky and Louisville. However, his championship with the Cardinals and two of his Final Fours were vacated in the wake of scandal, and the school fired him in 2018 after an FBI investigation into NCAA recruiting practices.

Central Notes: Sabonis, Middleton, Griffin, Pitino

After giving Myles Turner a four-year, $70MM extension last summer, the Pacers will likely be reluctant to make a similar move this year with Domantas Sabonis, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Both players are primarily centers and it’s difficult to use them together in a league where downsizing is the trend. Sabonis is extension-eligible this summer and will hit free agency next year if the Pacers don’t work out a deal.

Coach Nate McMillan put Turner and Sabonis on the court together occasionally this year to gauge their effectiveness. That strategy worked during the regular season, Bontemps notes, as the Pacers outscored opponents by 3.1 points per 100 possessions, but the Celtics have exploited the pairing in the playoffs.

This offseason will be vital is charting the future in Indiana, where six key players will be unrestricted free agents. Starters Darren CollisonWesley MatthewsBojan Bogdanovic and Thaddeus Young will be joined on the market by rotation members Cory Joseph and Tyreke Evans. Bontemps notes that owner Herb Simon is reluctant to go into the luxury tax, so some difficult decisions will have to be made.

There’s more this morning from the Central Division:

  • Bucks swingman Khris Middleton, who is headed for a major payday in free agency, learned about the business side of the league as a rookie with the Pistons in 2013, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Detroit legend Tayshaun Prince was traded during the season, then Middleton got shipped to Milwaukee over the summer. “You get a reminder of what this league is about, how it’s a business and business decisions are made,” Middleton said. “It’s nothing personal. It’s all about the organization. You see stuff like that, right in front of your face, you always hear about it, but hey, you learn anything can happen in this league. You got to be prepared for it and be ready to move on.”
  • Blake Griffin returned to action last night, but he couldn’t help the Pistons overcome the Bucks, relays Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Griffin, who missed the first two games of the series with swelling and pain in his left knee, wore a heavy brace under a leg sleeve as he scored 27 points in 31 minutes.
  • The Cavaliers are denying a report that they have talked to Rick Pitino in their coaching search, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com“False. We are, respectfully, not interested in him at all,” a source told Fedor. “No conversations with him by (team chairman) Dan (Gilbert) or anyone else.”

International Notes: Kilpatrick, M. Williams, China, Pitino

Sean Kilpatrick received an offer to play for Panathinaikos is Greece, but turned it down as he waits for another NBA opportunity, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The news was first reported by George Zakkas of SDNA.

Saturday marked the first day that NBA teams could offer 10-day contracts, and Kilpatrick, who has gone that route with four organizations, is hoping it will be his way back into the league. He played for four teams last season, starting the year with the Nets before being waived in December. He signed a two-way deal with the Bucks later that month and was converted to a regular NBA contract before being waived in March. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Clippers, then finished the season with the Bulls before they waived him over the summer.

The 29-year-old averaged 6.3 points per game last season, including 15.4 PPG in nine games with Chicago.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Matt Williams, who started last season as a two-way player with the Heat, has reached an agreement with GS Kymis in Greece, Lupo notes in a separate story. Williams began this  season with KTP Basket in Finland. He got into just three games with Miami before being waived in December of 2017.
  • The Lakers and Nets will play a pair of preseason games in China, according to an ESPN report. The contests are set for October 10 in Shanghai and October 12 in Shenzhen. It will be the third appearance in China for LeBron James and possibly the fourth for Lance Stephenson, who will set a record if he remains on the roster.
  • In the wake of Steve Alford’s firing at UCLA, a group of boosters is targeting Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino, writes Adam Zagoria for Forbes. Pitino made his debut with the Greek team late last month and is under contract for the rest of the season, so the move couldn’t take effect until the 2019/20 season. A source tells Zagoria that Pitino is “very interested” in taking over the Bruins. Approval from the UC Board of Regents is seen as the main obstacle in light of Pitino’s dismissal from Louisville amid his alleged role in an NCAA scandal. Murray Bartow is serving as interim coach at UCLA.

And-Ones: Pitino, Giannis, A. Davis, 2019 Draft

Former Celtics and Louisville head coach Rick Pitino is making a coaching comeback, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Agent Drew Rosenhaus tells Wojnarowski that Pitino has agreed to a deal to coach Greek club Panathinaikos for the rest of the 2018/19 season. He’s expected to make his debut on December 27.

Pitino’s lengthy stint at Louisville came to an abrupt end in 2017 as a result of the FBI’s probe into college basketball recruiting. He had spent most of the last two decades heading up the program, having previously coached the Celtics from 1997 to 2001. Since leaving Louisville, Pitino has been looking to re-enter the coaching ranks in the NBA, telling Wojnarowski earlier in the fall that he just wants to be “a part of an organization.”

“I want to develop young players,” Pitino said in October. “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.”

While his new job isn’t an NBA position, Pitino is hoping that Panathinaikos can be a stepping stone back to the NBA, writes Wojnarowski. He’ll take over a club that ranks 10th in EuroLeague play so far, with a 6-7 record.

Former NBA players Nick Calathes, Georgios Papagiannis, and Keith Langford are among the players on Pitino’s new roster, along with Thanasis Antetokounmpo, the older brother of Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Here are a few more basketball odds and ends:

  • Asked whether he’s ever had an issue like the Suns, Grizzlies, and Wizards did last week, when there was confusion over which “Brooks” was involved in a proposed trade, Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck told NBC Sports Boston that he has. “With the same team, by the way, that was involved [in last week’s failed three-team trade],” Grousbeck said. “That’s another story – that I’m not going to tell.” Grousbeck didn’t go into any more detail, so it’s not entirely clear which of the three teams he was referring to.
  • In the wake of LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo openly recruiting Anthony Davis to their respective teams, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores whether their comments constitute tampering, and whether commissioner Adam Silver is likely to step in.
  • Speaking of Antetokounmpo and Davis, they’re the NBA’s two most valuable trade chips, in the view of Bill Simmons of The Ringer, who ranked his top 55 players in the league in terms of trade value.
  • SI.com’s Jeremy Woo has published his latest 2019 mock draft, with Duke prospects holding the top three spots.