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Danny Ainge: Big fan of his former coaches Paul Westphal and Lionel Hollins

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Danny Ainge, who played under Paul Westphal in Phoenix, tells the Boston Herald that he almost hired Westphal --and Lionel Hollins-- at various points in his tenure at Celtic GM and high praise for both, his former coaches.

"I love everything about Paul Westphal," Ainge told Steve Bulpett. "Not just his game."

"Paul’s always been in my mix," said the Celts’ president of basketball operations. "Paul was in the mix when I hired Doc (Rivers). I’ve always been a big fan of him as a person and a coach.

"He’s just a great man. He’s got a great basketball mind. He knows how to take the strengths of people and put them to good use. I think that he has a great feel for people and basketball. I’m a big fan of how he thinks and how he lives his life."

When Ainge settled on Doc Rivers in 2004, he said he tried to hire Hollins for Rivers' staff. Now, he thinks Hollins did well to hire Westphal as his lead assistant.

"I think Lionel made a really good hire in bringing him in," said Ainge "And Lionel knows him as well as anybody because they worked together in Phoenix. Lionel was an assistant when Paul was my head coach. I’m a big fan of both of those guys."

The Nets play the Celtics Friday in Boston.