Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is seriously considering his future with the team and could make the decision to step down from his position in the front office, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).
Wojnarowski’s report comes on the heels of the Celtics’ exit from the postseason. After making the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the last four years, Boston entered the season with aspirations of competing for a title. However, due to COVID-19 issues, injuries, and inconsistent play, the team never built momentum toward legit contention, finishing seventh in the East. While the C’s earned a postseason berth via the play-in tournament, they were eliminated swiftly in the first round by the Nets.
We’ll have to wait for more details on Ainge’s thinking, but it’s worth noting that the veteran executive has had some health scares in the past. He suffered a mild heart attack in 2009, then another in 2019. Ainge took some time away from the job after that second heart attack two years ago, and later talked about it serving as a wake-up call to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Still, Chris Mannix of SI.com, who suggested on Tuesday night that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Ainge leaving the Celtics, hears that the 62-year-old likely wouldn’t retire if he stepped down from his position in Boston. The expectation is that he’d seek another opportunity in that scenario, tweets Mannix.
Ainge is one of the NBA’s longest-tenured presidents of basketball operations, having held the role with the Celtics since 2003. His tenure in that position is exceeded by only Gregg Popovich (Spurs) and Pat Riley (Heat), both of whom have been presidents of basketball operations since the mid-1990s.
During his 18 years in Boston, Ainge has made a series of memorable deals. His trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen helped lead the Celtics to a title in 2008. Additionally, the blockbuster deal that sent an aging Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets for a boatload of draft picks in 2013 is considered one of the biggest heists of the century, putting Boston in position to land Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in subsequent drafts.
A handful of Ainge’s moves in recent years haven’t panned out quite as well. The Celtics haven’t had a great hit rate on draft picks besides Tatum and Brown, and their last star trade acquisition (Kyrie Irving) departed after just two up-and-down seasons.