May 8, 1997
Paul Gaston says everything happening regarding the Celtics is his call. With a little help from some friends.
The hiring of Rick Pitino
as coach and basketball boss, the dismissal of several veteran
employees, today's announcement that Red Auerbach no longer will be club
president, and yesterday's announcement that former coach M.L. Carr has
stepped down as director of basketball operations to become executive
vice president of corporate development - all of it is Gaston's doing.
was my responsibility to get some things done that I felt had to be
done, and in doing them, I had to make a lot of tough decisions," said
the team owner, speaking of the moves for the first time. "I talked to
some friends and sought their counsel, but in the end, I had to make the
"I always wanted Rick Pitino
for the Celtics for the obvious reasons. Everything about him seems a
perfect fit. Then I had to let a lot of people go who have done a lot of
wonderful things for this franchise. That hurt, but I felt the moves
that were made had to be made if we were going to get through the
difficult times we have gone through the last few years here and turn
this thing around."
Gaston was reluctant to reveal all the plans for the Celtics' future.
don't want to make any statements right now that would take away from
what Rick plans to talk about" today at his press conference. "His title
will be announced at that time. Red has a new title. He will be with
the team. I consider him a friend, and I'm sure he will be happy about
what has happened here and what his role will be in the future. Rick
very much wants to work with Red."
Carr is staying with us and will move to the corporate end of the
business. I'm very proud of M.L. and how he has handled himself the past
few years in some very difficult situations" as coach and director of
basketball operations. "We are talking about a new contract that will
keep him with us in the future."
Gaston said the reported details and duration of Pitino's financial package have been inaccurate but would not give specifics.
has a long-term contract to both coach and be general manager, and for a
lot of money," said Gaston with a laugh. "But I don't want to get into
that. Let Rick, if he prefers to do so. That will be his call. The
details will be in our SEC filing" - the team is publicly held, and Pitino's salary will be revealed in the annual report.
said he does not know for sure what Larry Bird will do, but "if he
wanted to work in the organization under Rick in some capacity, that
would be fine with me. I consider Larry a friend. Despite what has been
said and written, we have talked on a regular basis. Whatever Larry
decides to do, I wish him the best.
made the initial contact with Rick, and that was very helpful. But I had
advice from others about what we might do here to come up with a new
situation. That might not be the right way to say it, but I feel this is
a new Celtics and we are going in the right direction.
still have a tough job ahead. We have to make the right decisions on
acquiring new players. We have to deal with a difficult salary cap
situation. It's going to take time."
In the end, Gaston said, all the decisions leading to today's introduction of Pitino were his, and he is ready to accept the consequences.
decisions were tough," he said. "We have tried to make them while at
the same time doing everything we could to treat people fairly. All of
them are my responsibility."
One last question. Is the team for sale?