Two-time national champion coach Rick Pitino is walking back retirement talk, contradicting statements he made during a media book tour in September.
The fired Louisville coach informed ESPN that he plans to use the current season to get up to speed on all things NBA in hopes of landing a job in the league next year.
“I just want to be a part of an organization,” Pitino told ESPN. “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. That’s my forte. I believe I can help an organization find a pathway to success.”
Pitino, 66, was fired during an FBI probe into a recruiting scandal involving Adidas executives. It was one of multiple scandals around the program during Pitino’s tenure at Louisville.
He said in September he was “done coaching” and “can’t see myself coaching ever again.”
If he lands an NBA job, Pitino would be making his return to the NBA ranks. He went 102-146 as head coach of the Boston Celtics and prior to that took the New York Knicks to the playoffs twice.
With the Celtics, Pitino also was handed personnel control and the title of team president. He said he wouldn’t insist on a front-office role this time around.
“I’m not looking for any of that [power/control] at this stage of my life,” Pitino told ESPN. “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.”
–Field Level Media