Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, who was fired last year from Louisville after the FBI linked him to potential pay-for-play schemes, is seeking a coaching comeback in the NBA.

The ex-Cardinals coach tells ESPN he will utilize the upcoming year to immerse himself in the NBA game with an eye on becoming a coaching candidate in the spring.

"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's change in direction about his plans for coaching are as impressive as the five-star recruits he hauled in at Louisville. Just one month ago, in fact, Pitino told ESPN ahead of his book release that he felt his coaching career was over. Now he's planning to study the game extensively to become a viable candidate for a franchise on the come-up.

"I'm not really thinking about coaching again in the future because I'm not in control of that," said Pitino in September. "I feel it's over for me."

Pitino, now 66, has had two stints as an NBA coach with the Knicks from 1987 to 1989 and the Celtics from 1997 to 2001. In New York he found some success, leading the franchise to an Eastern Conference semifinal appearance in 1989. In Boston, he never won more than 36 games and was back coaching college by 2001. Only once during his time in the league did he record a winning season.

Pitino is regarded as one of the best college hoops tacticians as a coach, but with two scandals under his name at Louisville -- first the escort scandal, and now the FBI probe that led to his ouster -- industry sources are dubious he will get an opportunity at the Division I level. The Division I coaching community we surveyed in CBS Sports' annual Candid Coaches series is nearly split 50/50 on whether he'll get another shot at the Division I level.

Pitino is a two-time National Champion and one of only two coaches to take three different schools to the Final Four. He amassed an astounding 770-271 record as a college coach during his career.