Schott: Nets Should Pursue Pitino

(Jason Schott – NY Sportsday)

The Louisville Men’s basketball team announced on Friday afternoon that they are self-imposing a one-year ban from postseson play sure to recruiting violations.

Head Coach Rick Pitino is under fire because it is not certain if he knew what was going on while recruits came to the campus, mainly the hiring of dancers to entertain the players. His job is definitely in jeopardy.

There have been many names floated around as to who the Brooklyn Nets will consider to be their next head coach, and Pitino should be in consideration.

It would be interesting to see if Pitino would want a third chance to coach in the NBA. He coached the Knicks for two seasons in the late 1980s, and then a disappointing stint with the Boston Celtics from 1997 to 2001. The most memorable things he did in Boston were drafting Paul Pierce and the famous quote of “Larry Bird isn’t walking through the door” in a press conference after a tough loss.

It is very possible he would like a chance to improve the NBA portion of his resume, to go along with his illustrious college record.

Pitino has no incentive to stay at Louisville, as they will not be eligible for this year’s postseason, a shame for a team ranked 19th in the nation and second in the ACC. If Pitino takes the Nets job now, he would avoid the danger of being fired from a job he has had since 2001 and in which he has enjoyed tremendous success, highlighted by a national title in 2013. He also won a national championship at Kentucky in 1996.

The Nets could could hire Pitino to be the General Manager in addition to head coach, and let him orchestrate the trade deadline, immediately putting his stamp on the team.

Pitino would be what Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is looking for: a big name that gives instant credibility and buzz to the franchise and belief that he could bring in big-name free agents, such as Kevin Durant.

It also would be the best use of the final two months of the season. Interim Head Coach Tony Brown is not inspiring the team, as evidenced by their 3-15 record under him. Their effort on defense can be described as lazy, as they give up 100 points routinely. Brown’s lack of accountability means the players can develop bad habits, and that is exactly what you don’t want to see with young players you are trying to mold.

Pitino can spent the final two months of the season determining who he wants for the future of the team.

The Nets reportedly are going to make a push for Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari, and offer him a contract in the neighborhood of 10 years and $120-million.

Calipari has not shown any interest in returning to the NBA after his stint with the Nets from 1997-99.

There is no real incentive for Calipari to leave what is basically a lifetime contract at Kentucky for the Nets, who are a bit away from being a playoff team again.

If Calipari is going anywhere in the NBA, it would be the Sacramento Kings, who have two of his best talents from Kentucky, DeMarcus Cousins and Willie Cauley-Stein.

Cousins is arguably the best center in the NBA, and their starting five is not bad, rounded out by veterans Rajon Rondo, Marco Bellinelli and Rudy Gay.

The Kings will likely end up in the lottery again, giving them another blue chip to add to their foundation. They will likely finish with 35 to 40 wins, and if they bring in Calipari, it is not unrealistic to think he is worth 10 additional wins.


In Friday night’s game, the Nets put on one of their best shooting performances of the season, as they beat the Sacramento Kings 128-119.

Brooklyn’s 128 points and 18 made three-pointers are a season high.

Joe Johnson had a big night, with 27 points and 11 assists, both season highs. He shot 11-for-16 from the field, and 5-for-7 from the field.

Brook Lopez had 26 points on 11-for-21 from the field, and 12 rebounds for another double-double.

Bojan Bogdanovic had a big night, as he finished with 23 points, a season high, on 8-for-10 from the field, including seven made threes, a career high.

The other Nets who scored in double figures were Donald Sloan with 17 points (6-10 FG, 4-5 threes), Thaddeus Young, who had 14 points on 6-10 from the field; and Wayne Ellington with 10 points.

Nets Interim Head Coach Tony Brown said of what was different in this one on the offensive end, “I thought the ball moved pretty good for most of the game – we had stretches when it didn’t. I think when the ball moves we are seeing the reads on certain plays and we have guys that can make shots. If you get the ball to them in a timely manner, they can get rhythm, they can see the rim (and) they can get good looks at the rim. I think that we had a lot more of that tonight than we had in previous games. You know, we have good shooters, we just need to get them good rhythm shots. I thought, you know, look at Joe (Johnson), look at Bogie (Bogdanovic) – incredible from three. I think that was a big reason why we won the game. You know, getting Bogie clean looks, he’s a pretty good shooter, so you see the result.”

Brown said of what he attributed the three-point shooting to, “I thought the ball moved at the right time and it hit the people that were open at the right time. A lot of the movement, the stuff we’re trying to do with our pace, secondary breaks – there are a lot of different looks on those plays, (and) when they were open, the ball found them. I think if we continue to play at that pace, I mean obviously you’re not going to score 128 points every night, but that’s the kind of pace we are looking for. We have good enough shooters that if they’ve got time to get off a good look, I like my chances of them making it. We struggle when we don’t see those reads right away and the ball comes to them late and it throws them off and that’s when we get stuck offensively.”

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