Monday, April 26, 2004
Updated: April 27, 10:45 AM ET
Ainge's former coach is expected to be on short list
By Andy Katz
A source close to Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal said Westphal would accept if the Boston Celtics called to offer Westphal the job, ESPN.com has learned.
The source said Westphal is expecting to get a call within the next few days, but hadn't received one as of Monday afternoon.
Westphal left a message with ESPN.com on Monday night saying he hadn't spoken to the Celtics and that his meeting with director of basketball operations Danny Ainge was an inadvertent bump at a high school game during NBA All-Star weekend in Los Angeles in February.
A source close to Ainge has told ESPN.com that the Celtics' search to replace interim head coach John Carroll, who was dismissed Monday, will focus on 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.
Westphal has three years remaining on his current contract at Pepperdine. He led the Waves to a disappointing 15-15 record, 9-5 in the WCC.
Westphal completed his third season in 2004-05. He coached 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.
"He'll take it if it's offered,'' the source said. "He loves Boston and he loves Danny Ainge.''
Multiple sources said Ainge would like to have a relationship with his head coach like Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders in Minnesota. Westphal's uptempo style fits what Ainge is looking for in a head coach. Ainge played for Westphal in Phoenix.
Westphal coached in the NBA with the Suns (191-88 in three-plus seasons) and Sonics (76-71 in two-plus seasons), including taking the Suns to the 1993 NBA Finals.
Westphal played 12 seasons in the NBA, including stints in Boston, Phoenix, New York and Seattle. He was a five-time NBA all-star and was a member of the 1974 Celtics championship team.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.