NBA NOTEBOOK: Celtics name Butler’s Stevens coach

Butler’s Brad Stevens is ditching his Bulldogs gear for the NBA after spending six seasons at Butler and compiling a 166-49 record and two national championship appearances.

Butler’s Brad Stevens is ditching his Bulldogs gear for the NBA after spending six seasons at Butler and compiling a 166-49 record and two national championship appearances.

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics have hired Brad Stevens to become their 17th head coach as they look to rebuild a franchise that has won a record 17 NBA titles, the team said on Thursday.

Stevens, 36, has spent the past six years as head coach of Butler University and will replace Doc Rivers, who was released from his Boston contract nine days ago to take charge of Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for a future draft pick.

“Brad and I share a lot of the same values,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a statement. “Though he is young, I see Brad as a great leader who leads with impeccable character and a strong work ethic.

“His teams always play hard and execute on both ends of the court. Brad is a coach who has already enjoyed lots of success, and I look forward to working with him towards Banner 18.”

Stevens led Butler University to two national championship games against Duke and Connecticut, never winning fewer than 22 games.

He led the Bulldogs to a 166-49 record, including a 12-5 record in the NCAA men’s basketball championship, and became the youngest coach to reach the Final Four since Bob Knight in 1973.

“Our family is thrilled for the opportunity given to us by the leadership of the Boston Celtics, but it is emotional to leave a place that we have called home for the past 13 years,” Stevens said in a statement release by Butler University.

“We truly love Butler University and Indianapolis, and are very thankful to have had the opportunity to celebrate so many wonderful things together. What makes Butler truly unique is the people that we have been so blessed to work with.”

Butler president James M. Danko said: “In keeping with The Butler Way, Brad has given his talent to our university with exceptional generosity, integrity, and humility.

“We have done everything we can to keep Brad here at Butler; however, the Celtics team has offered Brad and his family a unique opportunity with which no university can compete.”

Stevens will take over a Celtics team that finished third in the Atlantic Division last season with a 41-40 mark after winning the crown five years in a row and lost to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs.

During Rivers’ nine seasons at the helm, Boston went 416-305 in the regular season and 59-47 in the postseason, winning a NBA championship in 2008.

Though they enjoyed a long run of success after they assembled a Big Three when they acquired center Kevin Garnett and shooting guard Ray Allen to join forward Paul Pierce, the nucleus of the team has been dismantled over the past two years.

Allen left Boston to join the NBA champion Miami Heat last season and both Garnett and Pierce are expected to join the Brooklyn Nets in a block-buster multiple trade later this month with the Celtics set to gain several players along with three first-round draft picks.

Howard: I’ll tell you where I'm going on Friday, maybe

LOS ANGELES — Free agent center Dwight Howard is up in the air about where he will sign after listening to offers from five NBA teams — including the Atlanta Hawks — during the past few days but hopes to have a final decision by Friday.

The coveted center wrapped up meetings on Tuesday with potential suitors trying to persuade him to sign with their teams. Among them was his latest employer, the Los Angeles Lakers, the last to make a case.

Howard also heard pitches from the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Hawks since the free agency period opened Monday.

There were reports Wednesday that Howard left the L.A. area and headed for Montana or Colorado to contemplate his decision over the holiday break.

Howard’s two-hour meeting with the Lakers concluded Tuesday afternoon in Beverly Hills. Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash attended along with general manager Mitch Kupchak, executive vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and representatives from AEG and Time Warner Cable.

After leaving the presentation by the Lakers, Howard gave no indication of which way he was leaning.

“I had a lot of great meetings,” Howard said.

Spurs to re-sign Ginobili: Manu Ginobili announced he will be back with the San Antonio Spurs for two more seasons.

Ginobili, 35, was prone to injuries and turnovers last season and considered retirement. He is expected to take on a reduced role on the 2013-14 team that will closely resemble the 2013 NBA Finals runner-up. Ginobili remained effective in spots, averaging 11.8 points, 4.6 assists and 3.4 rebounds last season.

Ginobili is the second member of that squad to agree to return to San Antonio. Restricted free agent Tiago Splitter agreed to re-sign Tuesday and his five-year contract will become official next week.