Since coaching in the college game won't be an option again anytime soon for Bruce Pearl, the scandal-tainted ex-Tennessee coach appears to be on the verge of breaking into the professional ranks.
Multiple reports indicate that Pearl is in negotiations with the D-League's Texas Legends to become their next coach. Pearl will have a formal in-person interview later this week, but the job appears to be his if he wants it.
"When the world champions call you have to listen," Pearl told ESPN.com. "Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have been great and I'm looking forward to talking to them."
The D-League would be a logical starting point for Pearl if his goal is to become an NBA assistant in the next few years, but the drawback is he likely would be sacrificing financially if he accepts the job. A well-spoken, high-profile former coach like Pearl is sure to draw interest from TV networks looking for an analyst, a gig that pays considerably better than the fledgling D-League.
Pearl drew interest from the D-League's Maine Red Claws earlier this offseason before the franchise ultimately hired former Virginia coach Dave Leitao. The consensus at the time was that Pearl would likely spend at least a year in TV before reentering the coaching profession, but maybe the potential offer from the Legends is more intriguing to him.
Former Indiana and Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson has already proven NBA franchises don't care a lick about NCAA rules as several general managers have spoken with him about their head coaching vacancies. If Pearl can prove his coaching style will translate as well in the NBA as it did in college, he surely will have similar opportunities.