Sources close to Pitino told the New York Daily News that the Louisville coach reached out to Nets executives recently to make himself a candidate for the job.
Both men attended the funeral of Knicks Hall of Famer Dick McGuire, but the sources said Pitino, 57, used intermediaries to contact Nets president Rod Thorn.
"Pitino is interested in the job," a team official told the paper, adding that the interest is all one way at this time.
General manager Kiki Vandeweghe is serving as interim coach.
The report said former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy is on the Nets' short list, which does not contain Pitino's name. Further complicating the situation is that Thorn is in the final year of a contract as Mikhail Prokhorov prepares to take over as owner. Vandeweghe is also in the final year of his contract as GM.
Pitino previously coached the NBA's Knicks and Celtics and is a native of Long Island. He formerly coached the University of Kentucky and now finds himself largely overshadowed in that state as first-year coach John Calipari has quickly revived the Wildcats program while Louisville hasn't been able to dominate in the brutal Big East.
Vandeweghe took over the Nets bench after the team fired Lawrence Frank following an 0-16 start.