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Carroll lasts 40 games

4/27/2004

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.

"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.