Rumors have been swirling all day around these here internets that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has been working hard to get the head coaching job with the New Jersey Nets. Pitino has since shot down those reports but several sources are still insisting that he’s eying a move to the Garden State.
Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski has said that Pitino is definitely interested and that he’s been working back channels to Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov for weeks. Wojnarowski goes on to say that Pitino doesn’t want to appear that he’s making himself available for the position only to be turned down.
Ian O’Connor of the Bergen Record claims to have talked to someone close to Pitino who claimed he would be shocked if Pitino was still at Louisville next year.
When you step away from the rumors and denials and look at the actual situation, if Pitino wanted to move on right now, it would make complete sense for a number of reasons.
First of all, his son, Richard is no longer one of his assistants at Louisville. Then consider the fact that he finally convinced long-time friend Ralph Willard to join him on the Cardinals bench. Willard provides an immediate succession plan if Pitino were to leave, so he wouldn’t be leaving town while putting the program in a serious bind with regards to a future leader.
At Louisville Pitino may never have as solid a roster as he had in 2008-09. That team went 31-6, won the Big East regular season title, finished the regular season No. 1 in the AP poll and lost to Michigan State in the Elite Eight. Besides, going through the Big East meat grinder every year could wear any coach down.
Pitino also grew up in Bayview, New York. He’s a New York guy through and through, and if the Nets do, in fact, finalize a move to Brooklyn and Pitino managed to take them to glory he would instantly become a legend. He’s widely considered to have been a flop in his two years with the New York Knicks and his four years with the Boston Celtics. His career .436 winning percentage in the NBA isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. As Pete Carroll showed a few weeks ago, often the chance to silence doubters about your ability at the highest level of your field is too tempting to pass up.
After the adultery scandal that blew up in August of 2009, Pitino might just feel like it is time to move on. That situation was obviously hard on him and his family and the constant reminders around town can’t exactly being doing great things for his mental health.
When you consider all of those factors, it makes sense that he might be looking for a change of scenery.