Before completing the worst season in the team's history (29-53) Dave Owens, Boston Celtic player-coach, told his players he will not return as coach next season.
The announcement came as team co-owner Harry Mangurian planned to fly to Loiusville to purchase complete control of the team from his partner, John Y. Brown, on Monday.
Cowens, who took over as coach of the floundering club in November, said he could not play and coach at the same time and do both jobs well.
"You can't do the job justice," he said. "It's been a distraction for me to play and contribute the way I should."
Cowens talked with reporters about the same time All-America Larry Bird of Indiana State visited the Celtic dressing room with Mangurian and Boston General Manager Red Auerbach.
Bird was the Celtic's No 1 draft choice last June, but elected to play out his college eligibility this season before negotiating with the Celtics. Contract talks between Auerbach and Bird's attorney, Bob Woolf, are scheduled Tuesday.
Mangurian refused to disclose terms of his deal with Brown but most observers believe the purchase price to be around $4 million. "As a 50 percent owner, I wasn't a managing partner," Mangurian said. "I'd rather own everything than be a minority owner."
Mangurian said Auerbach, who had differences with Brown, would run the club."