BOSTON (ABC4 Sports) – Former BYU basketball star Danny Ainge is leaving Boston after 18 years as the Celtics team president.
Could his next stop be Utah?
The Celtics shook up their front office on Wednesday, a day after they were eliminated from the playoffs, with Ainge retires as president of basketball operations and coach Brad Stevens moving up to the front office to replace him.
The moves game about 12 hours after the 17-time NBA champions lost to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. The Celtics, who reached the conference finals in three of the previous four seasons, had flirted with a top-four seed in the East for much of the season before stumbling into the play-in round.
Ainge, who played for BYU from 1977-81 and was named the National Player of the Year in 1982, still makes frequent trips to Utah. He may be in line for job in the Utah Jazz organization, as speculated by NBA writer Chris Mannix.
“As Danny Ainge moves on from Boston, a possible landing spot, in some capacity: The Utah Jazz,” Mannix tweeted. “As rumors of Ainge’s exit rippled through the NBA in recent months, a role with the Jazz has been seen as a potential next step.”
Ainge is very good friends with Jazz owner Ryan Smith, who also went to BYU.
Ainge, 62, won NBA titles with the Celtics in 1984 and ’86 and took over as the team president in 2003. He was voted the league’s top executive in 2008, when Boston won its 17th championship — a league record that has since been matched by the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Helping guide this organization has been the thrill of a lifetime,” Ainge said in a statement. “Having worked side-by-side with him since he’s been here, I know we couldn’t be in better hands than with Brad guiding the team going forward.”
Stevens has taken the Celtics to the playoffs in seven of the eight years since he left Butler for his first NBA coaching job. He is the fourth-winningest coach in team history, behind Red Auerbach, Tommy Heinsohn and Doc Rivers.
He said the search for his replacement will be “wide-ranging and comprehensive.”
“I love the Celtics, and know the great honor and responsibility that comes with this job,” he said. “I will give it everything I have to help us be in position to consistently compete for championships.”