Courtside chatter

Thibodeau on the road to someplace

By Gary Washburn
Globe Staff / June 4, 2010

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LOS ANGELES — Celtics president Danny Ainge expects associate head coach Tom Thibodeau to land a head coaching gig for next season. The question is, where?

Thibodeau’s situation has become a news nugget at the Finals as the veteran assistant weighs where to interview and what job to choose. Here is the latest, according to Ainge.

Four teams have approached the Celtics about interviewing Thibodeau: the Hornets, Nets, Bulls, and Clippers. Thibodeau interviewed with the first three and has an offer from the Hornets. He apparently wants to wait until the Finals are over to make a decision, but the Hornets want one soon or will offer the job to Portland assistant Monty Williams.

Thibodeau has assured the Celtics that the process will not be a distraction during the Finals, and Ainge is not bothered by Thibodeau’s popularity.

“I think he would be a good choice and I don’t know where the negotiations stand,’’ Ainge said. “I do not think it’s a distraction at all. I think the players are focused and Tibs is focused. He wants to win a championship, and it obviously gives him a lot of credibility to whatever job he goes to next year with another championship ring.’’

Ainge said Thibodeau is likely in his final days as a Celtics coach.

“I think he’s gone,’’ Ainge said. “I guess he’ll be somewhere next year because he will get his chance.

“It’s that time where people are looking to hire coaches, and Tibs is doing a great job here and he’s earned a chance to be in that conversation. He’s done a lot for us and our team and he deserves an opportunity and a chance.

“When he came here, his objective was to become a head coach.’’

Ainge said he is handling the situation differently than in 2008, when Thibodeau did not receive an interview because the Celtics made such a long playoff run

“With Tibs, there’s never even a worry that he’s going to prepare for tonight’s game,’’ Ainge said. “And the last time we went through this, we were all probably a little bit overcautious not wanting him to talk to anybody and that probably prevented him from getting an opportunity to at least interview. Whether he would have gotten a job, I don’t know, but we talked about that before the season even started.’’

It is believed that Thibodeau’s preferred job is Chicago, but Celtics insiders have denied reports that Bulls officials flew in Wednesday night to interview him.

“I don’t think it’s bad timing,’’ Ainge said. “It’s just natural, I guess. It’s that time where people are hiring coaches.

“I think that every team is different. These teams call me. They are all looking for opportunities to talk to Tibs and I am giving them permission. It’s a timing thing and I think New Orleans wants to fill their position before other teams.’’

Fly on the wall
While the Lakers and Celtics are facing off for NBA supremacy and superstars such as Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett are seeking another title on the grandest stage, John Wall works out in a desolate UCLA gym, hoping that in a few short years, he will be in such a position.

Wall is living in Los Angeles while waiting for the June 25 draft, the likely No. 1 overall pick working arduously to improve his game and avoiding the spotlight while he waits for the most pivotal day of his life.

The Kentucky point guard said he will try to attend Game 2, but current NBA games are not his major concern. He spent Wednesday night working out with incoming Cal guard Gary Franklin and Michigan guard Darius Morris, dripping in sweat working on improving his jumper while waiting his turn to join the next generation of the NBA elite.

“I’ve got to go back home [to North Carolina] but I may get to Game 2,’’ he said. “But I definitely want to check out the games.’’

West Coast story
Before the Celtics practiced Tuesday at UCLA, Bruins coach Ben Howland greeted the players, and Ray Allen told a story about being recruited by the Bruins. Doc Rivers, always the one with jokes, asked which coach recruited him.

“It had to be the one before [John] Wooden,’’ Rivers said of the coach who began at UCLA in 1949. “I know it has to be whoever was here before Wooden.’’

Allen was born in Merced, Calif., but attended high school in South Carolina. Meanwhile, Howland allowed standout players Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee to watch the Celtics practice. The Celtics worked out at the soon-to-be refurbished Pauley Pavilion.

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