Blog Entry

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

Posted on: May 8, 2009 7:55 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2009 10:59 pm
Despite denials from the university, Louisville coach Rick Pitino reached out to the Sacramento Kings through an intermediary to express interest in their vacant head coaching position and continues to be interested in a return to the NBA, a person with knowledge of the situation told on Friday.

“I don’t think that book is closed at all,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I think the desire to go back to the NBA is there.”

A report by Yahoo! Sports about Pitino’s interest in coaching the Kings prompted the predictable denials from the university, which insisted Friday there was no truth to the story. But the person who spoke with confirmed that a mutual friend of Pitino’s and the Kings’ owners, Joe and Gavin Maloof, reached out to the Kings to discuss Pitino’s interest. Pitino began contacting recruits Friday to reassure them that he’s not leaving, and university spokesman Kenny Klein told, “He’s not going to the Sacramento Kings.”

But Pitino is embroiled in a controversy at Louisville in which he was the target of an alleged extortion scheme hatched by the estranged wife of an equipment manager. The woman, Karen Cunagin Sypher, was charged last month with asking Pitino for cars and tuition for her children and $10 million. She has not entered a plea. That case, according to the person who spoke with, is believed to be one of the reasons Pitino has decided to make overtures for a third return to the NBA.

“He had interest, and wants to get back to the NBA and prove he can win,” the person familiar with the situation said.

The person said Pitino’s name is “under consideration” by the Kings in their search to replace Kenny Natt, who took over on an interim basis this past season when Reggie Theus was fired. But the Kings have yet to interview anyone for the job, and their financial parameters wouldn’t satisfy Pitino, who would likely seek to be one of the highest-paid coaches in the NBA. He also would seek control over personnel decisions, which wouldn’t work in Sacramento, where GM Geoff Petrie makes the decisions with ample influence from the Maloofs.

Former Kings and Wizards coach Eddie Jordan is the current front-runner for the job, but there is debate within the organization as to whether such a hire would satisfy the team’s desire to break with the past. The Kings are moving deliberately in their search, and the longer it goes on, the more likely it becomes that a Maloof favorite, John Whisenant, could emerge as the top choice. Whisenant, the GM of the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs, has received consideration during the Kings’ past two coaching searches and is held in high regard by the Maloofs.

UPDATED: Why would Pitino want to flirt with an NBA team when he's under contract with Louisville? Don't forget the most important word in sports: leverage. A second person familiar with the Pitino-Kings saga told me Friday night that you cannot underestimate the role John Calipari's new contract with Kentucky plays in all of this. Pitino is said to be eager to pressure Louisville into sweetening his deal in light of Calipari, his former assistant, getting an eight-year, $31.65 million deal from his in-state rival. And you never know. Now that Pitino's name is on the NBA radar again, who knows? Some other team might be saying, "Why didn't we think of that?" 

Yes, in sports, it's always about the money.


Since: Sep 29, 2006
Posted on: May 11, 2009 3:16 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

Exactly!  Pitino is a class act and a great ambassador for basketball - I'm a UK Fan - not a fickle UK fan, there are those of us whom actually are civilized enough not to go ape sh*t when things don't "always" go our way (it would take the fun and appreciation out of winning wouldn't it now).

I'm a fan of coach Pitino - and with him, you at least know that you'll have a motivated team (even if not the most talented - see the probation years at UK) and a chance to win.  Good things.

Go UK - but Ville4Real's assessment is the most accurate. on this subject and board.

Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: May 10, 2009 8:53 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Feb 15, 2009
Posted on: May 10, 2009 2:00 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

Remember people, it's all about consistency, that's all.

Since: Aug 31, 2006
Posted on: May 10, 2009 7:12 am

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

From listening to Kentucky fans, the national championship Tubby Smith won is because of Rick Pitino too.  So that makes two, which would put him in very elite company.  Winning national championships in college basketball is very hard.

Since: Jul 17, 2008
Posted on: May 10, 2009 12:53 am

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

Calapari was NOT a Pitino assistant. I mean it I don't know why sports writers get so much credit for sports knowledge.

Since: May 9, 2009
Posted on: May 9, 2009 7:23 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

When was Calapari a Pitino Assistant?  Pitino likes to take credit for everything.  Now Calapari too.

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: May 9, 2009 2:07 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

Ummmm, Doc Rivers won a championship because the C's brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.  Not to mention the splendid play of Rajon Rondo.  That aside, I find it extremely difficult to believe that Doc Rivers was the reason that the C's won last year.  I think Pitino is a good coach, but I don't know if I see him leaving Louisville.  Although, it is kinda his M.O. to make a school prominent and then leave for the NBA just to come back to another flagging school and turn them around.  And seriously, he did finish 1st in the Big East this past year.  Considering the amount of very good teams in the Big East, that's nothing to take lightly.

Since: Oct 23, 2006
Posted on: May 9, 2009 1:23 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

Just another reason why college players should start getting paid. Lets stop pretending a "free" college education comes close to fair market value for what these kids provide. Since most coaches have zero loyalty to their schools or recruits (and the schools fire coaches, even good, long-standing ones like that guy down at Auburn a year ago) and everyone involved from coaches, universities, etc are just trying to maximize revenues, its time for the kids to get a cut.

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: May 9, 2009 12:40 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

I just don't trust college coaches anymore. I'm sure if Pitino gets another NBA job, it won't be long before he starts wishing he was back in old state U, where its the coaches who are the most visible, not in the NBA, unless you're a real elite coach.

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: May 9, 2009 12:35 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

I think that it is odd that Pitino did such a "bad job" with the Celtics. 38-44 is much better than 18-64 and that is the difference between when he left and when he got there. If the last place Celtics had gotten the 1st pick in his first draft, he would have picked Duncan and the Celtics would have been off and running to the playoffs.

People forget all the years of futility that the Knicks had. Pitino won the 1st Atlantic Division title in like 15 years for the Knicks.

Kentucky was 13-19 the year before he got there and he had them ranked in the Top 10 by the end of his 2nd season.

Louisville was 12-19 and he had them in the Final Four by his 4th season and his 2nd team was ranked as high as #2 in the polls before Ellis Myles blew his knee out.

People who discount Pitino are crazy!!!!!

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