Red Auerbach, president and general manager of the Boston Celtics, said last night that reports that he would retire as general manager at the end of this season were "premature."

Auerbach, 64, has been the team's general manager 32 years and helped guide the team to 14 National Basketball Association championships. He is the only coach in NBA history to win more than 1,000 games.

Auerbach said he wants to spend more time at his Washington, D.C., home, but that he hasn't decided how to do it yet.

"It's a question if I'll stay on like I am or if I'll give up some of my duties and not travel so much," he said. "But even if I give up the general manager's job, I'll stay as president, so I'll still have control of the team."

As president and general manager, Auerbach controls virtually every phase of the team, including scouting, negotiating contracts, acquiring players and making most front office decisions.

"I still commute from Washington and I want to cut down on that some," he said. "But the decision hasn't been made yet. I might keep on going like this for a year or two. We'll make the decision later, after Harry (Mangurian, the Celtics owner) and I talk about it."

A story in yesterday's Boston Globe indicated that the decison already had been made and that Mangurian was trying to talk Auerbach out of it.

"I'm still trying to talk him out of it and I think I have a shot at it," the Globe quoted Mangurian as saying. "For me personally, a lot of fun in owning the team is being with Red. I just like the guy so much. He's great to be around. We talked about this and I know how he feels. But I think it is very important for us that he stay really involved."

The Globe said Mangurian wants Auerbach to negotiate the contracts of Kevin McHale and Larry Bird. McHale will become a free agent at the end of this season and Bird at the end of next season.

Auerbach attends all of the Celtics home games and usually scouts when the team is on the road, but the Globe said that, after this season, he will attend half of the home games and do no scouting.

Auerbach, a graduate of George Washington University, began his professional coaching career with the Washington Capitols and joined the Celtics as coach for the 1950-51 season. After going 36-36 in 1955-56, Auerbach traded three players to the St. Louis Hawks, and in return, received a first round draft choice which he turned into Bill Russell.

Boston won 11 championships the next 13 seasons.

Auerbach turned over the coaching duties to Russell in 1966 after winning 938 regular season games and 99 playoff games to become the only coach in NBA history to win more than 1,000 games.