Financial lobs may lure Bird to Pacers, Pitino to Celtics Brown, Carr set stage with resignations

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BOSTON -- Two NBA coaching jobs opened up yesterday, and Larry Bird could have a say in who fills both.

In the wake of M. L. Carr's resignation in Boston and Larry Brown's in Indiana, Celtics special assistant Bird has an offer from the Pacers he may find impossible to reject: more than $4 million a year to be the head coach, a piece of the team, and the promise to take over the basketball operations job when president Donnie Walsh decides to step aside.

Attempts to reach Bird yesterday were unsuccessful. The Indiana job opened up with Brown's resignation, and Walsh said Bird is the only person he has talked to. Bird has said he would like a more active role in Boston, but he has ruled out coaching the Celtics. He offended many people in the organization with his harsh assessment of the franchise in March.

Bird's Indiana salary would make him the highest-paid coach in the NBA -- until, that is, one of his choices to succeed Carr signs on the dotted line. Kentucky coach Rick Pitino, whom the Celtics are feverishly courting, will receive much more to take the NBA job he always said he wanted.

According to a source, the Celtics are offering Pitino $40 million- $45 million over five years, along with 3 percent of the team. Pitino already has turned down the Golden State Warriors, who offered in the $8 million-a-year range. The Orlando Magic is in the same ballpark, but neither of those franchises appeals to Pitino the way Boston does.

Carr's position as director of basketball operations is also in danger if Pitino signs. The Globe has reported that Carr will be taken care of financially by the Celtics, possibly even given a small share of the team.

Asked to comment on the coaching situation, Antoine Walker, who played for Pitino for two seasons at Kentucky, said: "My comment is no comment. Talk to me when we get a coach." But Walker has told friends he would consider leaving Boston when his three-year contract expires if Pitino is named coach.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Pitino told Kentucky

prospect Byron Mouton on Tuesday that he would return to the Wildcats.

Boston has considered Brown, who met last night with the Philadelphia 76ers and likely will talk to the Warriors.

Pub Date: 5/01/97

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