Celtics

Ainge addresses speculation about Celtics exit, new role with Jazz

Celtics

About six months after "retiring" from his role as Boston Celtics president of basketball operations, Danny Ainge is back in the NBA as the alternate governor and CEO of the Utah Jazz.

After Ainge took his new role with the Jazz, there was some speculation that he may have been encouraged to leave his post in Boston. But the 62-year-old has insisted he just needed some time away from the game and reiterated that point to The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy in a recent interview.

Danny Ainge: 'I just needed a break from Boston'

"I just felt like I needed a break, well before the [2021] playoffs started," Ainge said. “And I also felt like the team was in great hands. When I decided to walk, I didn’t think that Brad [Stevens] would take over my spot. I thought that Brad would still be coaching.

"I just wanted to get away from the game for a while, and I’ve done that for seven months and I feel reenergized and I have a unique opportunity to work with a good friend [Jazz owner Ryan Smith].

"This is a much different role [than in Boston]. It’s a much lesser role. It happened quickly, over a period of a couple of days when I finally showed a little interest with Ryan."

Stevens taking over Ainge's job as president of basketball operations on June 2 surprised many people -- including Ainge, apparently. The Celtics hired Ime Udoka as their new head coach later that month.

 

It's possible Ainge both wanted to take time off and felt it was the right time to step down after a 2020-21 campaign that ended in a first-round playoff exit. But Ainge laughed off the idea that he was "pushed" out of Boston after nearly two decades in the front office.

"No," Ainge told Shaughnessy. "Are you serious? Do you seriously think that, or is that just like some commentary?"

Check out our Chris Forsberg's recent interview with Ainge (just before he took the job with Utah) in the video below.