Rick Pitino said recently that he is done with coaching after he was forced out at Louisville, but apparently he was just referring to college basketball.
Pitino told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN on Monday that he plans to focus on NBA basketball this year in hopes of coaching at the professional level again next season.
“I just want to be a part of an organization,” Pitino said. “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.”
Pitino said he believes the NBA is getting younger, meaning player development has become more important than ever. The 66-year-old feels he can help a franchise with that. He has hired highly-regarded NFL agent Drew Rosenhaus to help him pursue the goal, and Pitino says he will not be looking for a job that allows him to be a coach and front office executive.
“I’m not looking for any of that (power/control) at this stage of my life,” he 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.”
Having last coached in the NBA with the Boston Celtics from 1997-2001, Pitino is viewed by many as someone whose ego is better suited for the collegiate level. The results support that, as he was 102-46 in three-plus seasons with the Celtics and never panned out. As a college coach, Pitino won two national championships and reached the Final Four five times.
Several NBA front office executives told Wojnarowski that they would be hesitant to hire Pitino out of fear he would be difficult to co-exist with, especially during a rebuild.
Pitino said earlier this month that he is done coaching and doesn’t want the stress anymore. His ouster at Louisville came amid allegations of paying a recruit, and the program also had to vacate its 2013 national championship due to a sex scandal.
For many reasons, Pitino is facing an uphill battle to get back into the NBA.