Sunday, January 07, 2001

Pitino quitting Celtics, newspaper says

        MIAMI — Rick Pitino has reached a settlement deal with the Boston Celtics and will announce his resignation Monday, according to a Sunday report in The Providence Journal-Bulletin, which cited an unidentified source close to Pitino.

        Assistant Jim O'Brien will take over the team, the paper said.

        Pitino was obviously frustrated by his team's lackluster play Saturday night after they lost their fifth straight game, 112-86, to the Miami Heat. While the Celtics planned to fly home after the game, Pitino said he would stay in Miami with his wife to do some “soul searching.”

        “No, I have not resigned, but I am going to take a day off (Sunday),” Pitino said. “It has been a while since I remember having a day off. My wife is coming down and we are going to spend the day together and I'm going to do a little thinking.”

        “It's safe to say that I will have a decision after the day off,” Pitino said.

        Pitino has said since late last season, his third consecutive losing season, that 2000-01 would be his last in Boston if he doesn't see improvement.

        The Celtics have lost 11 of their last 14 and have allowed 100 or more points in nine of those games, with eight of them defeats. Pitino is 102-146 in 3 1/2 seasons in Boston.

        Earlier this week, Pitino revealed that he put his Boston townhouse up for sale, although he said his decision to sell had nothing to do with the Celtics. He said his family didn't need as big a house with his son, Richard, leaving for college next year.

        The Celtics sounded as if they might have seen their coach for the last time.

        “I don't know what his decision is going to be. All I know is that I feel that I didn't fight for him tonight,” Pierce said.

        “It's always in the back of your mind. It's there when you get to the arena — what's going on with the team. At times, it's difficult to stay focused.”


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