K.C. Jones, former coach of the Washington Bullets, will be named head coach of the Boston Celtics today, according to team sources.
Jones, a Celtics assistant coach the last five seasons, will succeed Bill Fitch, who resigned two weeks ago. Fitch has replaced Del Harris as coach of the Houston Rockets.
The Celtics had no official comment yesterday on their next coach, and Jones was unavailable.
Jones and Red Auerbach, the Celtics' president and general manager, met for three days in Chicago last week, were together on at least one other occasion, and another meeting was scheduled for this morning to work out the final details of Jones' contract, it was learned.
Jones was the No. 2 assistant to Fitch behind Jimmy Rodgers, but Auerbach has leaned toward Jones as his next coach from the beginning, a team source said.
"He (Auerbach) wants to keep it in the Celtics' family, and no one is better liked and more respected and more deserving of the job than K.C. The players all like and respect him and will play hard for him."
Former Celtics player Jones' only previous head coaching job in the National Basketball Association was with the Bullets in 1973-75. In that span, he compiled a 155-91 record, the best winning percentage (.630) of any coach in Bullets' history.
His Bullets won 60 games in 1974-75, but lost four straight in the NBA finals to the Golden State Warriors. The following season they lost to Fitch's Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and Jones' contract was not renewed.
After being out of coaching two years, Jones went back to the Celtics as an assistant coach to Satch Sanders and stayed through the tenures of Sanders, Dave Cowens and Fitch.
The Celtics have had problems lately. Owner Harry Mangurian is trying to sell the team and one of its stars, Kevin McHale, is a free agent. The Celtics are uncertain if they can sign McHale. Larry Bird, the team's best player, will become a free agent next season. McHale and Bird had their differences with Fitch, but get along well with Jones.
In another NBA coaching development, the United Press International reported that the Chicago Bulls had reached agreement on compensation to be given to the Atlanta Hawks for the rights to sign Kevin Loughery as their new coach.
General Manager Rod Thorn said Loughery will come to Chicago today, and was optimistic that the Bulls can reach agreement with the Hawks coach on a contract.
Reports indicated the Bulls would yield their second-round draft choice in this month's NBA draft as compensation for signing Loughery. Chicago radio station WBBM said the Bulls agreed to give Atlanta the 31st pick overall in the June 28 draft if they can sign Loughery, who has one year remaining on his contract with Atlanta.