Tag:Rick Pitino
Posted on: February 11, 2010 11:15 am

Thorn: No Pitino contact

Rod Thorn was packing his bags Thursday morning in an attempt to make it to Dallas for All-Star weekend. First, he had a situation to deal with -- shooting down the notion that Louisville coach Rick Pitino had contacted the Nets to express interest in being their next coach.

"I'm good friends with Rick and have been for long time," Thorn said. "He's never reached out to me and I've never reached out to him about this. He's never indicated to me that he’s unhappy where he is or has intentions of coming back to the NBA. I've certainly never heard about it and never had any conversation with him about it. If he had approached one of our owners or somebody on his behalf had approached one of our owners, I'm sure they say something to me about it."

This is the second time in a few months that Pitino's name has surfaced regarding an NBA job, which most people around the league see for what it is -- a desperate attempt on Pitino's part to keep an escape route open from Louisville, where he's been dogged by scandal and overshadowed by rival Kentucky and coach John Calipari. Pitino's operatives floated his name for the Sacramento job last summer, but there was never any interest from the Kings, who hired Paul Westphal.

Pitino himself denied the New York Daily News' report Thursday of his interest in the Nets' job. But the goal was accomplished; the more Pitino's name is associated with an NBA comeback, the more likely it is that some desperate, clueless owner will hire him.

The Nets, who are 4-48 and on pace to equal the worst record in NBA history, have bigger fish to fry. The purchase of the team by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov is expected to come up for a vote at the next Board of Governor's meeting, and the team is trying to make progress on its move to Brooklyn.
Posted on: May 8, 2009 7:55 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2009 10:59 pm

Pitino reached out to Kings, interested in NBA

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 CBSSports.com 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 CBSSports.com 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 ESPN.com, “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 CBSSports.com, 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.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com