NBA: Cavaliers deny interest in Pitino as head coach

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Apr 22 2019 11:13 AM

US coach of Panathinaikos Rick Pitino (C) looks on during a Euroleague basketball match between Panathinaikos and Anadolu Efes at The OAKA Stadium in Athens, on February 1, 2019. Angelos Tzortzinis, AFP.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were quick to halt any talk on Sunday that they have interest in Rick Pitino as a candidate for their vacant head coaching position, cleveland.com reported.

The report, citing an unnamed source, said the Cavaliers have had no conversations with Pitino and "are respectfully not interested in him at all."

Veteran NBA reporter Peter Vecsey reported Saturday that Cavaliers chairman Dan Gilbert had talked to the longtime coach about the vacancy. Pitino, who also was the head coach of the New York Knicks (1987-89) and the Boston Celtics (1997-2001), has been coaching in Greece since last year.

Pitino, 66, was fired after a long run at Louisville following an FBI probe into college basketball recruiting. He coached the Cardinals from 2001 until the end of the 2016-17 season, taking the program through three conference changes (Conference USA, Big East and ACC) while posting a 416-143 record.

Pitino, who also coached at Hawaii, Boston University, Providence and Kentucky, has 770 career college victories over 1,041 games, winning an NCAA title in 1996 with Kentucky and 2013 with Louisville.

Back in October of last year, Pitino expressed an interest in returning to the NBA in some capacity.

"I just want to be a part of an organization," Pitino told ESPN. "I want to develop young players. I want to be part of a team. I miss it terribly. I'm using this time to really study the NBA. If something opens up with a young basketball team, I'd have deep interest in it.

"I think the league is going to get younger and player development will become even more important to every organization. That's my forte. I believe I can help an organization find a pathway to success."

The Cavaliers are looking to replace former head coach Larry Drew, who went 19-57 at Cleveland this past season following the departure of LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers. Drew took over for Tyronn Lue, who was fired six games into the season.

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