Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA

Rick Pitino may actually get another chance in the NBA

With colleges almost sure not to touch him, Rick Pitino may actually get another chance in the NBA.

After being fired in disgrace by Louisville in September of 2017, Rick Pitino seemed sure to never coach again. But he came up as a candidate at St. John’s after Chris Mullin resigned, and according to NBA reporter Peter Vecsey and Marc Stein of the New York Times Pitino has spoken to Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert about the team’s coaching opening.

Denials sometimes come in these situations. According to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Cavaliers are saying there’s “zero truth” to reports of their interest in Pitino and are “respectfully, not interested in him at all.” Given Gilbert’s odd history, he could very well be acting on his own without anyone else in the organization knowing he has talked to Pitino.

After sitting out of coaching for over a year, Pitino landed with Panathinaikos in Greece last December. The team went 23-1 under him in Greek League play on the way to winning the league title and is currently in the EuroLeague playoffs.

Pitino obviously had his greatest success as a college coach, at Kentucky and Louisville, but he has had two prior stints in the NBA.

Over two seasons with the New York Knicks (1987-1989), Pitino had a 90-74 record with two playoff berths and a division title in his second season. He left Kentucky to become coach and president of the Boston Celtics for not quite four seasons (1997-2001), with no playoff berths and a record of 102-146 before he resigned.

Pitino’s most famous moment in Boston was clearly this rant, regarding who wasn’t “walking through that door” and the sentiment in the city.

Pitino expressed interest in the NBA last fall, and there were reports around a year ago he had an “informal discussion” with a team back then.

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The Cavaliers will have some appeal to coaching candidates, with a young point guard to build around in Collin Sexton and a top pick coming in this year’s draft. Gilbert may be burdened by unrealistic expectations in the short-term, but he seems to be trying to get a big name to be his new coach. And for Pitino, a third chance in the NBA may actually be a possibility.

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