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Hornacek eyes job with Celtics

Ainge says Hornacek would be a ‘great’ coach

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Jeff Hornacek said he's interested in the vacant head coaching position in Boston.

Jeff Hornacek said he’s interested in the vacant head coaching position in Boston.

Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

Danny Ainge wants Jeff Hornacek to interview for the now-vacant Boston Celtics head coaching position. The retired Jazz shooting guard sounds quite interested, and said Monday he plans to talk with Ainge "in the next week."

Ainge initially approached Hornacek while attending recent high school basketball tournament games in Phoenix, and made a pitch then.

"He asked me if I'd be interested in coming in and interviewing," Hornacek said Monday, "and he's called a couple of times since.

"He goes, 'You'd make a great coach,' and he goes, 'You have the calmness I never had,' " Hornacek added. "I'm thinking, he's never seen me a couple of times go after the referees."

Hornacek's candidacy surfaced in Monday's Boston Herald.

"Unless all the present candidates turn down the Celtics' offer, or cannot come to terms, the next coach will come from a group that includes Lionel Hollins, Doc Rivers, Paul Westphal, Dwane Casey, Jeff Hornacek and Avery Johnson," the Herald report said. "Also, Atlanta head coach Terry Stotts would be on the Celtics' radar if he is not retained by the Hawks."

That's the first known public connection of Hornacek's name to Boston, where John Carroll took over on an interim basis after new Philadelphia 76ers coach Jim O'Brien exited in January.

Carroll was dismissed Monday, one day after Indiana swept the Celtics out of the first round of the NBA playoffs. Doing the deed was Ainge, the BYU product and ex-Phoenix head coach who last May took over as Boston's executive director of basketball operations.

Hornacek — now living in the Phoenix area, where he spent six seasons with the Suns — retired from the NBA after the 1999-2000 season. His No. 14 is retired in Utah, where he played from 1994-2000 and later worked as a part-time shooting coach.

Hornacek, who turns 41 years old next week, said he would draw on that experience, plus a playing stint with the 76ers, if he were tapped in Boston.

"You learn a lot of different things . . . what's good, what's bad, what you can take from other teams," he said.

When he retired, Hornacek said the NBA's hectic travel schedule was taking a toll. He looked forward to spending more time watching his kids grow. Now, that reality may be a factor as he ponders the Celtics post.

"Even if they offered me the job," he said, "it would come down to what it does to the family."

As for his coaching philosophy, it is partly influenced by televised games he has watched throughout retirement.

"You say, 'Oh, gosh, if guys knew how to play, they'd be winning,' " Hornacek said.

"You don't win a lot of games, and win championships," he added, "if you don't play as a team."

E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com