Rick Pitino

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.

Rick Pitino Hoping For Return To NBA

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.”

And-Ones: Pitino, Free Agents, Team Canada

A return to the NBA doesn’t appear to be in the cards for Rick Pitino, who coached the Celtics from 1997 to 2001 before spending most of the last two decades with Louisville. Having been dismissed from Louisville after the program was investigated by federal prosecutors for potential recruiting violations, Pitino writes in his new book, “Pitino: My Story,” that no NBA doors have opened lately.

“Since leaving Louisville, my agent has reached out when NBA openings have surfaced,” Pitino wrote, per Jeff Greer of The Louisville Courier Journal. “We couldn’t even get an interview. I can’t blame the general managers who turned me down. Louisville fired me so abruptly, it instantly created the impression that I must be guilty of something.”

Asked today on Good Morning America if he wants to coach again, Pitino replied, “I don’t. It’s over for me, I know that” (video link).

Here are a few more items from around the basketball universe:

  • Veterans like Dwyane Wade, Rodney Hood, and Jamal Crawford may be the most notable free agents still available, but they’re hardly the only ones capable of helping an NBA team. Mark Deeks of GiveMeSport examines 30 unsigned players who are candidates to land on NBA rosters.
  • In an entertaining column for The Advocate, Scott Kushner makes his case for why the NBA season should start its season on Christmas Day, pushing the playoffs deeper into the summer.
  • Team Canada’s training camp roster for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers features a handful of NBA players, including Kelly Olynyk (Heat), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies), Cory Joseph (Pacers), and Khem Birch (Magic).
  • In a reversal of roles, Damian Lillard broke some news regarding Chris Haynes today, tweeting that the veteran reporter will be leaving ESPN for Yahoo, where he’ll become the Senior NBA Insider and will help build the site’s NBA team. Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania, and Bobby Marks have left Yahoo within the last year and a half.

And-Ones: Upshaw, Pitino, NCAA Tournament, Players’ Health

Grand Rapids Drive player Zeke Upshaw passed away this past Monday after he collapsed during the final minute of a weekend game against the Long Island Nets. It was a tragic and unexpected event for a 26-year-old professional player who displayed no signs of health issues.

Per a report from USA Today, Upshaw suffered a “sudden cardiac death.” The medical examiner who was assigned Upshaw’s case said he discovered ” cardiac abnormalities” but an in-depth investigation into his depth will take several weeks.

Upshaw had played internationally before spending the past two seasons with the Piston’s G League affiliate. The Pistons honored Upshaw with a posthumous call-up to honor his contributions to the organization.

Check out more news and notes out of the basketball world:

  • The New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League reportedly offered former Louisville coach Rick Pitino their head coaching position, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. There has been virtually no NBA interest in his services with the lone conversation between his reps and an NBA team (the Bucks) initiated by Pitino’s side, Stein noted.
  • Shaun Powell of NBA.com examines which injuries will have the biggest impact as the postseason nears. The list includes injured All-Stars the likes of Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant. Powell also looks at players out for the rest of the year (DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Roberson) and Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN looks at a diverse pool of 11 players who could impact the NBA’s future. All of Pelton’s choices are 28 years old or younger, and some are expected to be lottery picks in the 2018 NBA draft.
  • Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago looks at which NBA prospects benefited from a further look during the NCAA tournament.

Stein’s Latest: Pistons, Knicks, Bucks, Magic, Suns

Earlier today, Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Pistons have expressed interest in Chauncey Billups for a potential front office role, with an eye on possibly pairing him with Arn Tellem in their basketball operations department. The report quickly drew responses from multiple sides — Billups stated that he would “never push for a job with any NBA franchise that is not open,” while a Pistons ownership spokesman simply called the report “false.”

Rod Beard of The Detroit News (Twitter link) also hears from a source that there’s “nothing whatsoever” to the idea of a Billups/Tellem team-up in the Pistons’ front office, but Stein doubled down on the report in his latest newsletter for The New York Times, citing league sources who say that Detroit has “great interest” in hiring Billups. According to Stein, the Pistons believe they have a real shot to convince Billups to leave his TV job for an executive role.

Stein’s newsletter includes a few more tidbits on coaching and front office situations around the NBA. Let’s dive in and round up the highlights…

  • There’s a growing belief that Knicks GM Scott Perry will want to hire his own hand-picked head coach at season’s end, says Stein. According to Stein, if the club replaces Jeff Hornacek and makes a high-profile hire, Mark Jackson and David Blatt would be among the candidates to watch.
  • With a move to a new arena around the corner, the Bucks may want to make a big splash with their next head coaching hire. League sources tell Stein that Jeff Van Gundy and Kevin McHale are among the names on the Bucks’ list of potential candidates, while Monty Williams and David Fizdale have also been mentioned. Rick Pitino could even get an “exploratory look,” says Stein.
  • There’s a “widely held assumption” in coaching circles that the Magic will replace Frank Vogel, according to Stein, who identifies Nick Nurse, Rex Kalamian, and Jerry Stackhouse as possible targets for Orlando. All three of those coaches are in the Raptors organization, which is where Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman previously worked.
  • While Jay Triano will receive an interview as part of the Suns‘ head coaching search, Stein is hearing buzz that Triano is more likely to be asked to stay on as an assistant. Phoenix wants to explore the college ranks, and Villanova’s Jay Wright is one name that figures to come up during that search, per Stein.