Carroll lasts 40 games

Updated: April 27, 2004, 10:47 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

WALTHAM, Mass. -- John Carroll got a job recommendation instead of a job from Danny Ainge.

"John Carroll did a fantastic job for our team based on the situation he was given," Ainge said Monday after announcing that Carroll would not be promoted from interim coach and given a permanent job.

Source: Westphal would take it
Paul Westphal would accept if the Boston Celtics offered him their head coaching job, a source close to the Pepperdine coach told ESPN.com's Andy Katz.

The source said Westphal is expecting to get a call within the next few days, but hadn't received one as of Monday afternoon. The Celtics called him within the last two weeks to check his interest in the position. Celtics president Danny Ainge visited with Westphal last month in California.

Westphal, who has three years remaining on his current contract at Pepperdine, is one of a handful of candidates that is expected to be on the Celtics short list to replace John Carroll.

"He'll take it if it's offered," the source said. "He loves Boston and he loves Danny Ainge."

Pepperdine was 15-15 (9-5 in the WCC) this season under Westphal, who led the Waves to a 22-9 record and share of the WCC regular-season title (13-1) and an NCAA Tournament appearance in his first season in 2001-02. Pepperdine was 15-13 in 2002-03.

Westphal, who coached Ainge in Phoenix, was 191-88 with the Suns and 76-71 with the Sonics. He took the Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals.

"In the right circumstances, at the right time and the right place, John Carroll is very qualified to coach in the NBA," Ainge said. "This is a time that we need to make a change."

Carroll was in his seventh season as a Celtics assistant coach when Jim O'Brien resigned on Jan. 27 over philosophical differences with Ainge.

The Celtics went 14-22 under Carroll to finish the regular season 10 games below .500, but they still managed to eke out the last playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. They were swept in the first round by the Indiana Pacers.

Carroll left the team's practice facility before Ainge spoke on Monday and was not available for comment. Players and owners also left the team's breakup meeting without commenting.

But Carroll seemed to know what was coming.

"I have been a coach my whole life. I think when you are a coach you understand that coaching is a very precarious job," he said after the Pacers completed the sweep with a 90-75 victory on Sunday.

"I've been very fortunate to be in one place for seven years here with the Celtics, and I'm very appreciative of the responsibility that I was given."

Ainge said he is in no hurry to make a decision about a new coach.

"I'm not going to have a gun to my head, because there's no immediate need," Ainge said before joking: "I would like to have a head coach in place now, so he could answer these questions and I could go to Europe and scout players."

A source close to Ainge has told ESPN.com that the Celtics' search will focus on Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal, former Orlando Magic coach Doc Rivers and Golden State Warriors guard Avery Johnson. Lionel Hollins' name has been floated, but the Celtics are leery of pursuing him because he's considered to be in line to succeed Grizzlies coach Hubie Brown when Brown retires.

Ainge, who coached the Phoenix Suns from 1996-99, would not comment Monday on candidates except to say he was not himself a candidate.

Asked whether Carroll would be offered a job in the organization, Ainge said: "Not unless the new coach would like to have John Carroll on his staff."

Ainge disputed published reports that the new coach would not have the authority to fill out his staff.

Carroll, who coached Duquesne from 1989-95, took over when O'Brien resigned over differences with Ainge. Although the Celtics made the Eastern Conference finals and semifinals the previous two seasons, Ainge traded star Antoine Walker and O'Brien favorites such as Eric Williams and Tony Battie.

The moves netted injured big man Raef Lafrentz and Ricky Davis, among others, and made it difficult for O'Brien to implement his disciplined, defensive style. Like Rick Pitino before him, O'Brien gave up on trying to restore the Celtics to their past luster and quit; the Philadelphia 76ers hired him last week to be their coach.

The Celtics, who own a record 16 NBA championships, have now had six coaches in the 18 years since their last -- by far the longest drought in franchise history.

Carroll took over a team that had been .500 and second in the Atlantic Division and lost 12 of its first 13 games. But he was able to turn things in time to make the playoffs.

"When I walk out of here today I'll walk out with my head held high, knowing that I've done whatever I could possibly do to help this franchise move on in its quest," he said Sunday.

"A lot of people never thought we'd be here, but we're playing basketball in mid-April, we lost to a very good team. I feel very comfortable with that, and I've had a lot of fun being able to do it."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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