There's one name that makes NBA fans cringe when his name comes up for a coaching vacancy: Rick Pitino. It makes me break out in hives just thinking about how much he set the Celtics back. So fans of the Sacramento Kings, who have been teased a lot with lofty expectations and less-than-desirable results, must be dying… because Yahoo! reports he's in the running for their head job. Yikes.
There are a couple of schools of thought on Pitino in the NBA. One comes from him laying waste to the Celtics chances of success by crippling the franchise for years after he left. Simply put, you want THAT Pitino around your team the same way you want drunk frat boys around your daughter.
But some will point to his relative success with the Knicks and say if he's not making the personnel decisions and he sticks to coaching, then he can take a young team and get something out of them. It's that slight glimmer of hope that keeps Pitino's name in the periphery of the NBA coaching mix.
Here are 2 simple truths about Pitino:
1: He's still got that bitter Celtics taste in his mouth and he's hell bent on wiping it clean before he quits coaching. Pitino WILL coach in the NBA again because he absolutely needs to redeem himself. He needs to be a great basketball coach… not just a great college basketball coach. He can't have ESPN's retrospective on him when he retires include the line "but he couldn't duplicate his college success in the NBA." His name keeps popping up for a reason…. he's putting it out there through intermediaries for a shot at redemption.
2: Pitino will not accept a job that doesn't give him some say in player movement. He's not just going to sit there and take what's given to him. Pitino has a plan, and he's going to get the players that fit that plan. He needs to have some control.
Do those things give anyone confidence that he can have NBA success?
The Maloofs are Vegas guys, and they like big, splashy, fancy things. Pitino is a big, splashy, fancy move that will become one of the top stories in the NBA. They'll get a lot of attention, which explains why they're interested. But I agree with Tom Ziller at Sactown Royalty.
splash on the bench. The Kings need better players, and a coaching
staff that can maximize their potential and production on the court. We
have done pizzazz! His name was Reggie Theus. The team's attendance
dissolved under him. Coaches do not sell tickets, and big names don't
automatically.win games. (See: Russell, Bill, 1989.)
All I can say is… good luck Sacramento. I hope the Maloofs come to their senses.