NBA Rumors: Rick Pitino Quits Greek Team, Eyes NBA Return

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Rick Pitino is one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball, having won championships with both Kentucky and Louisville. His record in the NBA is considerably less sterling, having failed to reach a similar level of success in stints with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

But now, the 66-year-old coach is planning to attempt another crack at the NBA and has even quit his current job to do it.

Per ESPN, Pitino has turned down an offer to return to Panathinaikos, the Greek club team that he led to a championship this year, because he “wants to return to the full-time pursuit of a job in the NBA.”

Pitino, the story by Adrian Wojnarowski said, is open to either a head coaching job or a “player personnel or advisory role.” There are currently no open head coaching positions in the NBA.

The coach led his Greek team to a 15-0 record this past season, although only eight of those wins came after Pitino arrived in Greece.

Per The Inquisitr, Pitino was rumored to be in contention for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ head coaching job this spring, although the team denied those assertions, and Cleveland ended up hiring a different coach with a college background, longtime Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Pitino was fired from his head coaching position after 17 years with Louisville in 2017 after a series of scandals. These included an incident in which Pitino had an affair with a woman who later attempted to extort him, accusations about escorts being provided to players, and then an FBI probe involving alleged payments to recruits.

In the late 1990s, Pitino left the University of Kentucky to take over as both head coach and player personnel boss with the Boston Celtics. His tenure there was considered a flop, and he quit in 2001 after giving an infamous speech about how “all the negativity that’s in this town sucks” and expressing frustration that none of the great Celtics players of the 1980s were “walking through that door.”

The coach told ESPN last year that if he comes back to the NBA, he’s not interested in taking over a franchise the way he did in Boston.

“I’m not looking for any of that [control] at this stage of my life,” the 66-year-old coach said last December. “I want to develop teams and develop players and build a winner. I value analytics. I want to fit into an organization.”