Danny Ainge announced his retirement as president of operations of the Boston Celtics, with Brad Stevens moving to the team’s main office in a full-time position.
The Celtics will begin the search for a new head coach immediately.
Ainge has been contemplating leaving the job for several months and had been discussing possible succession plans with the owners, according to sources. Stevens turned out to be the franchise’s choice.
Ainge also went from being NBA head coach to Phoenix’s main office.
Stevens has been described as training-worn since La Burbuja and welcomed the opportunity to transition to the main office, sources said. Stevens will help lead the search for his successor as head coach.
The move comes a day after Boston’s disappointing season came to an end with a loss to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series.
Ainge, 62, was the architect of Boston’s last champion team, the 2008 team with Paul pierce, Kevin Garnett Y Ray allen, and is the third longest-serving CEO of any NBA franchise, behind Pat Riley, his longtime nemesis, with the Miami Heat (1995) and Gregg popovich with the San Antonio Spurs (1996).
The Celtics are heading into what is a critical offseason for the franchise after Boston finished seventh in the Eastern Conference shortly after reaching the conference finals in three of the past four years. After years of having surplus draft picks and the opportunity to make moves in free agency, the Celtics find themselves without it this offseason.
Kemba Walker, the team’s highest-paid player, has two years and $ 73 million left on his contract, coming off a season in which he missed 29 games, plus Boston’s last two postseason games, due to knee problems. Marcus Smart, the emotional leader of the team, is entering the final year of his contract and is eligible for an extension. And Evan Fournier, whom Boston acquired at the trade deadline after using a significant portion of the trade exception created when Gordon Hayward went to free agency last offseason, will be an unrestricted free agent.
Ainge arrived in Boston in 2003, in one of the first major decisions the owner made. Wyc grousbeck after purchasing the equipment the previous fall. The move came in an unusual way, with Ainge being hired amid the Celtics facing the then New Jersey Nets during the Eastern Conference semifinals, a series Boston would lose.
“I had no interest in waiting until mid-June to see if it was still available,” Grousbeck said at the time.
It turned out to be a decision Grousbeck would not regret, as Ainge managed to complete the transactions for Garnett and Allen in the summer of 2007 that made the Celtics champions for the first time in more than 20 years in 2008, before sending Garnett and Pierce. to the Brooklyn Nets for a bevy of future draft picks in 2013, a swag that eventually became the cornerstones of current team Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Throughout his 18 years with the Celtics, Ainge has hired only two coaches: Doc Rivers, whom he hired in 2004, after his first season in charge, before shocking the basketball world by hiring then-Butler University coach Brad Stevens, who replaced Rivers after he left to coach the LA Clippers in 2013 and is still the coach today.
But despite the success the Celtics have had in recent seasons, including reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2017, ’18 and ’20, it has been a tumultuous run for the franchise. Ainge was criticized for leaving behind Isaiah Thomas in the deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston during the 2017 offseason. While no one questioned the move from a talent standpoint, Thomas had played hurt in the playoffs and helped the Celtics reach the final of the season. conference, and the move revived the old “Trader Danny” nickname given to Ainge after he traded in a previous franchise favorite, Antoine Walker, more than a decade earlier.
Ironically, the other criticism Ainge had received in recent seasons was that he had been too stingy in his willingness to make deals. Rather than offering any of the draft picks or young players he had amassed for winning talent now by any of a number of stars who became available, including Paul George, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden, Ainge chose to stick with it. firm.