Rick Pitino is heading back to college basketball, and he sounds thrilled.
The veteran coach reached an agreement with Iona to become the new basketball coach. He issued a statement after the news was confirmed, suggesting that he plans for this to be his final coaching stop.
A deal between Pitino and Iona came together quickly on Saturday, and Pitino gets his return to college after being fired over the Louisville recruiting scandal in 2017. He had claimed he didn’t want to come back to the college ranks, but this makes it pretty clear it was his dream all along.
Over two years after leaving college basketball, Rick Pitino may be on his way back.
According to Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, Pitino has informed his Panathinaikos players that he is returning to college basketball, and has already left Greece.
Furthermore, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported that Pitino has begun negotiations with Iona for the school’s head coach job.
Pitino had been linked to the Iona job once it came open. While it’s mid-major basketball, it is in the New York area that Pitino knows well.
The former Louisville coach, who lost his job due to a recruiting scandal, has been coaching in Greece since 2018. He had claimed that he wouldn’t return to college basketball, but that was always likely to change if the right offer came his way. Perhaps this is that offer.
The New York Knicks may have had their undisputed franchise player by now if they had just taken some advice that was given to them a couple years ago.
Appearing Wednesday on SiriusXM NBA Radio, ex-Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said that he tried to convince the Knicks to draft Donovan Mitchell, who played for him on the Cardinals, with the No. 8 overall pick in 2017.
The Knicks replied that they could not take Mitchell that high and drafted Frank Ntilikina with the No. 8 pick instead. Mitchell then went to the Utah Jazz at No. 13.
The 23-year-old Mitchell has since become a centerpiece for the Jazz and one of the top scoring 2-guards in the league. Ntilikina, meanwhile, has yet to pan out for the Knicks in his third year, doing well defensively but averaging just 5.8 points per game for his career.
The Knicks have definitely been roasted for draft-related reasons before, and while hindsight is 20/20, it has clearly been a pattern for multiple years.
Rick Pitino recently said he was planning to return to Greece to coach Panathinaikos next season if his children were on board with it, and the Hall of Fame coach has decided not to go that route.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Pitino has turned down an offer to return as president and head coach of Panathinaikos, as he is hoping to earn a full-time role with an NBA team. He said he is open to coaching or working in a player personnel or advisory role.
Panathinaikos was 7-0 when Pitino was named head coach, and he led the team to a perfect 15-0 record and a Greek Cup title. The 66-year-old said earlier this month that he is prepared to give up college basketball forever if he returns to Greece to coach next season and that he would make a decision after speaking with his kids. He previously insisted he was not interested in leaving Europe for a college job, and that still appears to be the case.
Pitino is one of the best college coaches of all time. He has won two national championships — one in 1996 and Kentucky and another in 2013 with Louisville, which was vacated. He was fired by Louisville in Oct. 2017 after being involved in a scandal involving the payment to a recruit who ended up at the school. He previously got into trouble with the NCAA and had a championship and Final Four appearance vacated over a sex scandal.
Pitino, 66, had two separate coaching stints in the NBA. He coached the Knicks for two seasons from 1987-1989 and then coached the Celtics from 1997-2001 before resigning in the middle of his fourth season. It’s unclear if there will be any interest in him from NBA teams, though he was linked to one head coaching vacancy last month.
Rick Pitino is ready for another year in Greece if his children are on board, even if it means the end of his college basketball career.
Pitino said he will travel to New York this week to speak with his kids and if they agree, he will sign on for another season with Greek club Panathinaikos. He warned, however, that it would mean the end of his college coaching career.
“You have to understand is that if I come back, I give up college basketball forever,” Pitino told Kostas Katevas of Cosmote TV, via EuroHoops. “It could never happen because I couldn’t leave Panathinaikos for a college in March or April. If I come back, it’s Panathinaikos and then death.”
Pitino has previously claimed he won’t leave Europe for a college job. It’s obvious that he still has the itch to coach in college if the timing is right despite that comment. The reality is that college basketball has likely moved on from him after the Louisville scandal. He won both the league and the Greek Cup this season, and Panathinaikos seems like a pretty good gig for him — perhaps the best he’ll get at this stage of his career.
Is Rick Pitino eyeing a job in the NBA now that many of the college basketball coaching vacancies have been filled? That could be the case.
Veteran NBA reporter Peter Vecsey reported on his Patreon page Saturday night that Pitino and the Cleveland Cavaliers have spoken. He says there is mutual interest between owner Dan Gilbert and Pitino, though it’s unclear for what kind of position. You can read the full report at Vecsey’s Patreon.
Pitino, 66, has been coaching in Greece since December. He led Panathinaikos to a Greek Cup victory and is coaching them in the EuroLeague playoffs.
Pitino was fired by Louisville in Oct. 2017 after being involved in a scandal involving the payment to a recruit who ended up at the school. He previously got into trouble with the NCAA and has a championship and Final Four appearance vacated over a sex scandal.
One of the best college coaches ever, Pitino has won two national championships — one in 1996 and Kentucky and another in 2013 with Louisville, which was vacated. He had two separate coaching stints in the NBA. He coached the Knicks for two seasons from 1987-1989. He coached the Celtics from 1997-2001 before resigning in the middle of his fourth season.
After being tied to some coaching vacancies, Pitino said earlier this month that he was not interested in leaving Europe for a college job. In October, he did express interest in returning to the NBA.
The Cavaliers are looking for a new head coach after parting ways with Larry Drew, who replaced Ty Lue, who was fired after an 0-6 start to the season.
Rick Pitino’s name has been linked to virtually every prominent college basketball opening this offseason, but he’d have you believe he’s not interested in any of them.
Pitino’s Panathinaikos team is about to start the playoffs in Greece, and he said that takes priority right now — and no job or amount of money could change his mind.
“I’m enjoying being a pro coach. So far, we’ve had Las Vegas, we’ve had UCLA, we’ve had… It’s very difficult for me to be a college coach,” Pitino said, via EuroHoops. “All you have to do is look at the calendar timing-wise. I would have to leave to be a college coach and these guys are way too important to me, for me to leave at any point.
“There’s no amount of money, there’s no job, there’s nothing that would make me leave this team right now as we start the playoffs. So, if I was anybody in your shoes or elsewhere, I would not pay attention to any rumors because this basketball team is way too important to me to leave them at this time.”
It’s in the eye of the reader whether they find this believable or not. For what it’s worth, though, he has spoken about his preference to coach professionally, which is what he’s doing now.
Whenever there’s a decent college basketball coaching job available, there will be some people linking Rick Pitino to it. It even happens when the job isn’t available.
That’s the case with UNLV, with growing rumors about the safety of coach Marvin Menzies. Despite the rumors, it’s fair to say that Pitino won’t even be talking to UNLV as long as Menzies, his former assistant at Louisville, is employed there.
“I root for UNLV every game,” Pitino told Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Friday. “I have been a big fan since the Tark days. But now I root for them every game because of Marvin Menzies, a younger brother to me. I, nor my agent, haven’t had any discussions with UNLV about coaching there. I will continue to root for my ex-assistant coach every game. Go, Marvin.”
Pitino is currently coaching in Greece, and he’s sent mixed signals about coaching stateside again. Most recently, he said his preference would be to coach at the NBA level, but we’re guessing he’d listen to overtures from a solid college program — just not one that currently employs one of his close friends.
Rick Pitino has won a lot of things in basketball, and now he can add “Green Cup champion” to his resume.
The Hall of Fame basketball coach led Panathinaikos to the Greek Cup title on Sunday with a 79-73 win, and he posted a picture of his championship team on Twitter to celebrate the accomplishment.
Pitino’s team took a rather odd route to the final after a semifinal forfeit, but they certainly seem to have played well when it counted. The team features several former college standouts, including Nick Calathes, Adreian Payne, Keith Langford, and Sean Kilpatrick. Also on the team is Thanasis Antetokounmpo, older brother of Giannis.
Now 66, Pitino still wants to coach stateside, but faces a long road back after his Louisville program became caught up in an FBI probe. At least he can still find success overseas.
Rick Pitino’s Panathinaikos team has advanced to the finals of the Greek Cup in bizarre circumstances.
Pitino’s team was leading Olympiacos 40-25 at halftime. As they prepared for the second half, they waited for Olympiacos to emerge from the locker room, but that never happened.
Olympiacos forfeited the game in protest of the referees. Pitino wrote about it on Twitter, saying he’d never experienced anything like it.
The oddities didn’t end there — Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos put a pair of women’s underwear on the Olympiacos bench after their forfeit.
Things are just completely different in Greece. It’s something Pitino needs to get used to. As for Olympiacos, when you’re in the same category as LaVar Ball, that’s never a good sign.