Rick Pitino

Rick Pitino eyeing return to NBA after turning down Greek team's offer

Rick Pitino eyeing return to NBA after turning down Greek team's offer

Rick Pitino's last NBA coaching job with the Boston Celtics didn't work out very well. But it sounds like he wants another crack at things.

Pitino, who led the Greek club team Panathinaikos to a Greek League championship this past season, has turned down an offer to return as their head coach and president, he told ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

The 66-year-old told Wojnarowski he's planning a "full-time pursuit" of another NBA job, either as a coach or in a player personnel or advisory role.

Pitino issued a statement Friday on Twitter thanking his former team.

Pitino comes with baggage, as he was fired as Louisville's head coach in 2017 in the wake of an FBI investigation into a "pay-for-play" scheme. He also won just 41 percent of his games (102-146) over three-plus seasons as Celtics coach from 1997 to 2001, an ugly tenure marked by his famous, "Larry Bird is not walking through that door" speech.

 

But Pitino did have some success in his first NBA head coaching gig with the New York Knicks (albeit 30 years ago), guiding them to the Eastern Conference semifinals after a 52-30 campaign in 1988-89. He also was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 on the merit of a highly successful college coaching career.

Whether a front office would want to bring Pitino back onto an NBA staff remains to be seen, but he's apparently intent on finding out. 

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Old Takes Exposed reminds us of a brutal date in Celtics history

Old Takes Exposed reminds us of a brutal date in Celtics history

The 2018-19 season certainly didn't end well for the Celtics, but an important thing to remember is that it could always be worse. The notorious Twitter account Old Takes Exposed reminded us all how true that sentiment can be Sunday.

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the 1997 NBA Draft Lottery, where the Celtics owned the second-best odds to land the top pick, and generational prospect Tim Duncan. As we know, the Spurs ended up winning while the Celtics fell to the third overall pick. 

Duncan was the ultimate prize in 1997, so losing the lottery was a tough blow to a Celtics franchise that needed a reason for hope after the end of the Larry Bird era and the tragic passing of Reggie Lewis. 

Boston ultimately made out well by selecting future Hall of Fame point guard Chauncey Billups, but Duncan was on another level as a prospect. 

At the time, a Buffalo News column claimed that the Celtics had something better than Tim Duncan; newly hired head coach Rick Pitino. 

Pitino was hired after winning a National Championship with the University of Kentucky, but his six-year run in Boston was not nearly as successful. He posted a 192-220 record as head coach, traded Billups during his rookie season along with Dee Brown for Kenny Anderson, Popeye Jones and Zan Tabak. Not great. 

And of course, there was the famous, "Not walking through that door," rant. 

Pitino at least drafted Celtics legend Paul Pierce, but his tenure as the team's head coach is one of the darker spots in the franchise's history. 

Duncan went on to win five championships with the Spurs and leaves a legacy as arguably the best power forward of all time. 

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No, Rick Pitino didn't convince Danny Ainge to draft Terry Rozier

No, Rick Pitino didn't convince Danny Ainge to draft Terry Rozier

Rick Pitino did play a role in the Boston Celtics drafting Terry Rozier. Just not as much as the former Louisville coach may remember.

Pitino had Rozier on his podcast Wednesday and boasted that he essentially convinced C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to take Rozier with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

"When I first talked to Danny, I said, ‘Danny, you need to take him in the first round,' " Pitino said on the podcast. "He said, ‘Well, Rick, I can’t take him at 16, I’ll get second-guessed.’ I said, ‘I’m telling you he’s worth it.' He started laughing."

Ainge, however, has a slightly different recollection of events.

"That's not exactly how I remember it," Ainge said Thursday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich." "I mean, as most or all of my front office will testify, I was a huge Terry Rozier fan well before I even talked with Rick."

Ainge admitted he consulted with Pitino and took the coach's glowing review of Rozier into consideration on draft night. That said...

"He certainly didn't convince me to draft Terry Rozier," Ainge added. "We were all on it."

"But I was checking with Rick as a guy who had coached him for two years and recruited him and got his opinion. He was very high on Terry Rozier, I can verify that."

Ainge did, in fact, take criticism for taking Rozier at No. 16, and that criticism initially was justified: The young guard played sparingly his rookie season and averaged just 5.5 points per game the following campaign.

But Rozier broke out in a big way last season after Kyrie Irving went down, proving Ainge right for sticking to his guns -- and hearing Pitino out -- on the Louisville product.

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