The M.L. Carr era - a bizarre interlude in the rich history of the Boston Celtics - is over. Will there be a Rick Pitino era?

Carr did Wednesday what was expected after he guided the Celtics to the worst record in team history and the best chance for the top pick in the NBA draft. He resigned after two seasons as coach.Pitino might do what, less than a month ago, was unexpected. He met April 2 with Celtics special assistant Larry Bird, but stated firmly he wanted to remain as coach of Kentucky.

The Celtics are badly in need of a public relations boost - especially if Bird bolts to Indiana as coach of the Pacers - and following a report that Pitino is likely to end up in Boston, his return to New England might yet happen.

Carr retained his position as director of basketball operations and will be involved in choosing his successor.

Pitino played at UMass and coached at Boston University and Providence College before taking over the New York Knicks. He led Kentucky to the NCAA title last year and a finals berth this year, when it lost to Arizona.

Pitino has the coaching experience and teaching skills that his predecessor lacked. The Celtics' position was Carr's first coaching job at any level, and his players said practices were poorly structured.

During games, the garrulous Carr often smiled and bantered with referees and opponents while his team struggled with double-digit deficits.

In his two seasons as coach, Boston was 48-116. The Celtics, who own an NBA-record 16 championship banners, won more than 48 games in 28 of their 51 seasons.

Boston also was hit this season by a rash of injuries. At times as many as eight players sat on the bench in finely tailored street clothes, and the club did not rush any of them back.

As a result, the Celtics missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season and had a 15-67 record, seventh-worst in NBA history. Vancouver, at 14-68, was worse, but the expansion agreement prevents it from getting the top pick to be determined in the May 18 lottery.

"When you say 15 wins, you can't be proud of that," Carr said, "but we realize the team is positioned very well right now to get away from that."

Especially if it convinces Pitino to take control.