Cavaliers Head Coach Rumors: Rick Pitino Has Discussed Job with Dan Gilbert

Megan ArmstrongCorrespondent IApril 21, 2019

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. - One of the biggest coaching names in US college basketball, Pitino has not lost a game in the Greek league after being hired just after Christmas 2018. (Photo by ANGELOS TZORTZINIS / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
ANGELOS TZORTZINIS/Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers have taken their coaching search overseas, as veteran NBA reporter Peter Vecsey disclosed Saturday that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Rick Pitino have talked about the vacancy.

Pitino is currently the head coach of Greek team Panathinaikos, which he led to a Greek Cup Championship in February.

The Hall of Fame coach is best known for his coaching in the NCAA, winning two championships—one with Kentucky in 1995-96 and another with Louisville in 2012-13, which was vacated in 2018.

Pitino's tenure at Louisville came to a controversial end when he was fired in 2017 amid an FBI investigation into bribery and fraud in college basketball, which came months after the NCAA had already sanctioned him and the school for the 2015 sex scandal.

One year later, ESPN.com's Jeff Borzello spoke with Pitino about the FBI case, with the latter defending himself. "If you know me, you know I don't cheat, you know I don't do these things," the 66-year-old said. "These prosecutors don't know anything about basketball, anything about me."

Though the FBI investigation caused Pitino's exit, the sex scandal resulted in Louisville vacating 123 wins from 2011-12 through 2014-15:

Pitino was lightly linked to the opening at St. John's earlier this month when Zach Braziller of the New York Post reported the coach reached out to the school to express interest in the job. St. John's ended up hiring Mike Anderson on Friday.

Pitino began his NCAA coaching career in 1975-76, and he coached at Hawaii, Boston University and Providence prior to Kentucky and Louisville. His NBA experience includes serving as an assistant coach for the New York Knicks from 1983 to 1985 before taking over as head coach for two seasons and then moving on to become head coach for the Boston Celtics from 1997 to 2001.

Cleveland, meanwhile, is coming off of a 19-63 season. After getting off to an 0-6 start, the Cavaliers fired head coach Ty Lue. Interim head coach Larry Drew took over for the remainder of the season, even agreeing to an extension with the team in November before eventually agreeing to part ways with Cleveland on April 11.

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