Friday, April 17, 2009

Pitino Considering Jumping Back To The NBA?

After telling two of UK's biggest boosters a few weeks ago that he would not feel comfortable leaving Louisville and going back to UK, it appears that Rick Pitino could possibly end up being the new coach of the Atlanta Hawks.

A high-ranking NBA official told me today that the decision-makers in the Hawks front office want to replace Mike Woodson with Pitino.

I tried to confirm this story with someone in Pitino's circle or on his staff. I got two responses. One person said it was news to him. The other said that it's a rumor that's definitely out there, but that it is not true. If it is true, there is great incentive for Pitino's people to dispel such an idea until after the Hawks season concludes. However, it is also fair to state that Pitino has not held any direct talks with anyone from the Hawks organization. Plus, even if he were to talk to someone in Atlanta, it doesn't necessarily mean he would take the job.

Such a move would be somewhat curious on both sides actually. Woodson has done a very respectable job with a roster full of young talent--with particular emphasis on "young." After taking the eventual champion Celtics to a 7th game in the first round last year, Atlanta came back this season and earned the 4th seed in the East by posting a record of 47-35.

But for whatever reason, it seems as though Woodson has been on his way out for the past two seasons. In fact, many people around the league believe that it was the Hawks strong first round playoff showing that saved his job last year. And if Atlanta were to knock off Dwayne Wade and the 5th-seeded Heat in the first round this season, it would make replacing Woodson over the summer even more difficult.

As far as Pitino is concerned, I am sure many people would be shocked to hear that he would even consider going back to the NBA after what happened in Boston. Or better yet, some might wonder why another NBA team would even give him a shot to coach again in the league. As I have said before, trying to figure out what motivates Coach P might require a PhD in psychology.

I have also learned that no decision should surprise you when it comes to Corporate America. There have been many good people who lost their job simply because someone above them didn't like them personally or how they went about their job, regardless of the results.

Pitino might look at another opportunity in the NBA as a means to redeem his last venture into the league. Remember, he guided the Knicks to the playoffs. So, it's not like he can't coach professional players. It just didn't work out in Boston for a couple of reasons.

1) Despite having the worst record in the league that previous season, the Celtics did not win the Draft Lottery. So instead of getting the obvious number one pick that year, Boston had to watch Tim Duncan head to San Antonio, where he would eventually win three NBA titles.

2) Pitino had too many former UK players on his roster. The tactics he used to motivate guys at Kentucky did not fly once those guys were A) making more money than him and B) did not need him to re-up their scholarship every year.

I am sure UK fans will have a field day with the possibility of Pitino leaving Louisville for the NBA. Some will say that Pitino is scared of John Calipari because he knows he would be the underdog in any recruiting battle between the two rival programs. I think "scared" is a bit too strong of a word, but I do know that Pitino and his staff realize their work on the recruiting trail will now have to step up considerably.

Speaking of recruiting, I guess this is as good a place as any to throw in this little tidbit, especially since it relates directly to Louisville. The word around many league offices is that elite 2010 UofL recruit Jeremy Tyler wants to follow Brandon Jennings' road to the NBA. Instead of going to college for one season, several league execs believe that Tyler will go play professionally in Europe for one season before entering the 2011 NBA Draft.

I am not sure if Pitino and his staff are aware of this belief, but if they are, maybe that's another reason he would want to get out of the college game and go back to the NBA. The paychecks are definitely more, and the headaches are definitely less.


CardInAustin said...

Well, after breaking the Pitino to AZ and Pitino to UK stories I consider this to be quite a coup for Mr. Eaves.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure any of those players were making more than Pitino did in Boston. Recall what an obscene amount of money it took to finally lure him from Lexington. IIRC it was $70-77 million over 10 years, and he was definitely the highest paid coach in all of sports (at that time).

The Realist said...

So Pitino has to step up his recruiting. Really? Does it not matter that he has top 10 classes already wrapped up for the next 4 years? Or do the two top ten big men already on the UL roster (Jennings, Samuels) to go along with several higly ranked guards and forwards not matter (Siva,Sosa,Smith,Goode,Swopshire,Kuric,Delk among others)?

Someone definitely has to recruit but its not Pitino and UL. It will take Calipari 2-3 classes to catch up to Pitino in recruiting given the roster he inherited (those he doesn't run off first that is). And if Calipari does land this monster class what happens next when he doesn't win one next year and Meeks, Patterson, Wall, Henry and whomever else go pro?

Is he just going to roll the dice with highly regarded freshman every year and hope they gel? We saw how that works at Memphis. It got him a title game and several disappointing seasons (just like the one that got a certain coach fired last year).

I realize UK fans will tell you this is UK its different than Memphis..but its not. Gillispie, Sutton, Tubby and Hall can tell you that UK on the chest gets you nothing when the ball is tipped up. This is 2009 not 1949.

I predict Calipari makes an NIT at UK before he wins a title. Especially if he goes for the high risk one and doners every year. And while Calipari is a great guy he doesn't handle criticism very well and he has never heard criticism like he will hear from the unbearable UK fan base after his first NIT appearance.

I like a healthy rivalry but the UK fans and bandwagoners are writing checks their future teams wont be able to cash and writers like yourself (a UK grad I might add, class of 94 was it) aren't helping matters by encouraging that already light between the ears fan base.

Anonymous said...

Have you head anything about Richard Pitino to Florida under Billy D. and Pitino to the Bulls?

Michael Eaves said...


i never said pitino WAS GOING to either kentucky or arizona.. i said representatives for both programs wanted to pursue him.. nor am i saying now that pitino will be the next head coach of the hawks.. but if the team makes a move, some execs in the organization would want to pursue him..

so don't try to put words in my mouth or change what i write simply because you don't like the idea of losing your coach.. i don't do rumors here.. i only write what credible sources tell me..

don't shoot the messenger because you don't like the message!!


Anonymous said...

Richard to UF as an assistant and Rick to the NBA (Hawks or Bulls) is definitely out there...smoke, fire, etc.

Anonymous said...

"don't shoot the messenger because you don't like the message!!"

The message was Pitino to UK and Pitino to, yeah, we completely believe this Pitino to Atlanta thing is goin' down.

Michael Eaves said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Eaves said...

if you think that was the message, then you must have a hard time comprehending the written word..

if you read what i actually wrote.. you would see that i even found it hard to believe that Pitino would go to the Hawks for a couple of reasons.. but that doesn't mean that someone in the Hawks organization doesn't want to hire him.. and if they reach out to him.. pitino might listen and even consider.. although he would likely turn it down..

Anonymous said...

Step up recruiting considerably? You are truly clueless. Last year's class was top ten. Tis year is top 20 and next years is already loaded. Wake up and smell what you're shoveling.

Anonymous said...

You wrote that Pitino's own assistants were pushing him to go to UK. Sounds like you're sources are the ones full of it. All this is wishful thinking on a former Lexington reporter's part. BTW, why don't you show you aren't biased and do some digging on World Wide Wes's connections with Calapari and Coach Cal's recruiting practices.
Again, why don't you qualify your "need to step up recruiting" rem,ark too after you look up the past 2 classes and the '10 signees. Is this a blog or Cat's Pause?

Michael Eaves said...

you guys are funny.. you read a few of my posts and part of my bio and you think you know all about me..

yes, i went to UK.. and covered the team from 1994-1999.. but all of my father's family moved to louisville in the 1950's.. i spent a few weeks in louisville every year from the time i was born until i graduated high school.. darrell griffith was best friends with my cousin.. and lived around the corner from my uncle.. and because of those connections.. i am one of those rare UK fans who actually roots for louisville when they are playing anyone else but UK.. when it's head-to-head, my alma mater always wins out.. so don't try to paint me as some UK fan just trying to cast dispersions on the cards.. i wish them no harm whatsoever.. and have no agenda in that regard..

as far as pitino's assistants pushing him to seriously consider going back to UK.. THEY DID!! whether you want to hear it or believe it doesn't matter.. it's true.. and i know it to be true..

and as far as recruiting goes.. what i wrote about louisville stepping up its recruiting now that Calipari is in Lexington was not my idea.. the coaches themselves have said that..

i know it's natural for fans to get defensive about their favorite teams.. but don't let your feelings for your teams cloud your judgement and understanding of what you read..

CardInAustin said...

Mr. Eaves,

With all due respect, if your sources say that Pitino is going to AZ, UK, Atlanta Hawks, etc....are they really credible?

After all, they struck out on the first two. Are they credible and wrong? Or did Pitino really take both of those jobs and I am just not in-the-loop enough to realize it?

Look, you can write about whatever you want and it really won't bother me, but I think if you take a good look in the mirror you will know that you pull the trigger on baseless Pitino rumors every time the wind switches directions.

Joshua said...

I agree with mike eaves, heres the deal right now, uofl is supposedly in some stuff for point shaving or somethin like that, right now uk has the num 5 recruiting class in the nation, if they get wall or henry num 1, ul is i think num 14 right now, wall has already made it clear he wants to play at least two years, then we got hood, who is a very very good shooter, so when meeks is gone, we will have either hood or maybe henry, we are working on bledsoe, who is a great pg, so we will have someone to back it up, then we have cousins and orton who will stay at least three years, not sayin anything but ul fans need to accept that cal is goin to bring the cats back on top.....and quick too.

Michael Eaves said...

wow.. i'm really beginning to wonder how many people actually read my posts.. because what i write and what some people retain are not one in the same..

let me repeat this for the 100th time.. I NEVER SAID PITINO WAS GOING TO KENTUCKY OR ARIZONA.. and i challenge anyone to show me where i did.. feel free to go back and look at all of my previous posts.. i delete nothing..

i simply said that certain UK boosters wanted him back and that members of his staff wanted him to strongly consider it.. that's absolutely 100% true.. and that's exactly what i wrote.. i NEVER said it was a done deal or that he was even leaning towards going.. i just listed some of the reasons such a move might make sense..

same thing for arizona.. he was jim livengood's #1 choice from the very beginning.. but i NEVER said he was going to take the job.. i NEVER wrote anything about pitino to arizona being a done deal..

it's downright comical how fans crave inside information.. until they get some information they don't want to hear..

Mike said...

I hate to see everyone hating on Eaves blog. The man only posts what he's heard. I like the inside info. Keep it up... I love reading it!

Anonymous said...

lets get back to that point shaving...are you serious? UK was definitely interested, no doubt, why his name got brought up for Arizona, who knows. The fact that his name keeps getting brought up is the scary part. Pitino doesn't like to fail, its obvious he has got the college game down. He has rebuilt Louisville. It wouldn't surprise me if he wanted another chance at the NBA title.

Big Blue Mountaineer said...

I wonder if the FBI investigation of the supposed affair with the equipment managers wife at Louisville has more to do with the Hawks speculation and Richard going to Florida.

CardInAustin said...


I did read your blog, and you weren't SAYING Pitino was going to Arizona, UK, or the Hawks, you were just "saying" that Pitino was going to Arizona, UK, and the Hawks.

Once again, let me ask this question: if your "credible sources" are wrong about so many things, are they really credible and are they really sources? After all, you can find SOMEBODY who will tell you almost anything.

In summary, perhaps you should be choosier about what you choose to put up on your blog as "news". The most often you whiff, the more it hurts your credibility.

I'm not SAYING you and your sources are not credible, I am just know...

Michael Eaves said...

CardInAustin: please show me where i said that Pitino was going to UK or Arizona or the Hawks.. please!