Celtics

Ainge addresses retirement rumors, notion he tries to 'bury' GMs

Celtics

There's been plenty of speculation surrounding Danny Ainge amid the Boston Celtics' underwhelming season.

Fortunately for the Celtics' president of basketball operations, he has a platform to address that speculation.

During his weekly interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich" on Thursday, Ainge was asked off the bat about ESPN's Jackie MacMullan floating the possibility of the longtime executive stepping away from the Celtics in the not-too-distant future.

Ainge didn't completely dismiss the rumors, but it doesn't sound like he's going anywhere soon.

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"When I came back to take this job in Boston, I wasn't sure if I'd be here three or five years," Ainge said. "In this world, you just never know. I think I'll know when it's time (to retire), but not yet. It's something I've contemplated, but I have no idea when that's going to happen."

Ainge added that he and the Celtics haven't discussed any sort of succession plan, and that replacing him would be up to team Governor Wyc Grousbeck and the rest of Boston's leadership.

But the 61-year-old did joke that Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren would jump at the chance to fill Ainge's shoes.

"Oh, absolutely," Ainge said.

Ainge, who joined the Celtics in 2003, is the NBA's second-longest-tenured head executive behind Miami Heat president Pat Riley. That means he's dealt with plenty of GMs -- some of whom don't enjoy their interactions with Ainge's squad. One Western Conference executive told ESPN.com's Tim Bontemps that the Celtics are only open to trades "if they think they're going to bury you."

 

Naturally, Ainge pushed back on that assessment.

“I think that’s ridiculous,” Ainge said. "I have conversations regularly, daily, with (opposing GMs). It’s not about winning a deal, it’s about finding a partner that needs and wants what we have, and us finding and wanting what (they) have. I’m not trying to bury anybody in a deal. I’m trying to make our team better."

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It makes sense why Ainge doesn't want that reputation, but he's done his fair share of "burying" over the years. (Just ask former Brooklyn Nets GM Billy King.)

Ainge hasn't made a pre-NBA trade deadline deal since landing Isaiah Thomas in 2015, but this could be the year he breaks that streak. The C's reportedly are targeting several sharpshooting wings and big men as they look to improve from a 17-15 record.