Danny Ainge

Warriors Notes: Green, Wiseman, Myers, 2022/23 Season

Four-time Warriors champion forward Draymond Green had an extensive chat with team president Bob Myers during a plane ride from Oakland to Boston this past Tuesday, with the Warriors leading the Celtics 3-2 in the 2022 NBA Finals ahead of what turned out to be a close-out Game 6, writes Sam Amick of The Athletic.

“We talked about everything but basketball that everyone deals with,” Myers said. “I don’t pretend to understand what it’s like to be them (the players) because I’m not a celebrity, or famous or as wealthy as them… I just think we get so focused on Game 5, Game 6, I don’t think we talk enough about (life). Once this stuff is over, we’re gonna go back to our lives. Everybody’s got challenges, so I’m just talking about that stuff.”

“Those are things that bring you together for a lifetime,” Green said of their conversation and others like it. “We’ve seen several people win trophies together, and they hate each other. It’s those things that bring you together and connect you forever.”

Amick also discusses the late benching Green received in the fourth quarter in Game 4. Head coach Steve Kerr played center Kevon Looney in Green’s stead for much of the frame, a decision that ultimately helped the Warriors knot the series at 2-2 with a 107-97 Game 4 victory.

“You have to (get through moments like that),” Green said. “But like I said, ultimately in those moments, the most important thing is that you trust each other. I didn’t question (Kerr). I was upset, (because) as a competitor you want to be in the game.”

There’s more out of Golden State:

  • Warriors center James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick out of Memphis in the 2020 draft, said recently that he expects there is a “90% chance” he will be able to suit up for the team’s Summer League games, per NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter video link). “I’ve been feeling great,” Wiseman said. “I’m running now, I’m doing a lot of up-and-down stuff… I’ll most likely play in Summer League.” The seven-footer’s rookie season was cut short due to a mensicus tear that also kept him out for all of 2021/22. In 39 healthy games during the ’20/21 season, Wiseman averaged 11.5 PPG and 5.8 RPG, though his inconsistent defensive play limited him to just 21.4 MPG.
  • Warriors team president Bob Myers credits former Celtics team president Danny Ainge, now with the Jazz, for helping Myers land his current job, per Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. Ainge was the architect behind much of the roster against which Golden State faced off in the Finals. “Without Danny, I wouldn’t be here,” said Myers. “He recommended that [Warriors owner Joe Lacob] meet with me…  And Joe didn’t know me from anybody. And on Danny’s recommendation, he met with me. And then a few months later, Joe asked me if I wanted to work for the team. So I do owe that to Danny. Truly, without him I don’t get hired by the Warriors.”
  • After a resurgent 53-29 regular season led to a charmed NBA Finals run and their first title since 2018, the Warriors actually have a chance to improve during the 2022/23 season, writes Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Kawakami notes that talented recent lottery selections Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody did not play meaningful minutes in this year’s NBA Finals, but could be poised to contribute to the roster next year. Rookie wings Moody and Kuminga chipped in during Golden State’s playoff run, while second-year center Wiseman continues to work his way back from injury. Following a breakout regular season, 23-year-old shooting guard Jordan Poole saw more limited time during the playoffs, but still managed to be a solid contributor. Kawakami notes that Poole, too, could develop further next season.

Fischer’s Latest: Gobert, Jazz, Bulls, P. Williams, Snyder, Spurs

Confirming a pair of earlier reports, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report states that the Jazz haven’t entertained inquiries on Donovan Mitchell, but have been willing to engage in talks involving Rudy Gobert, with the Bulls among the potential suitors for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

According to Fischer, a Bulls offer for Gobert would – as expected – start with center Nikola Vucevic. The “popular package” discussed by various league executives would also include Patrick Williams, according to Fischer, who notes that the Jazz have long been seeking a wing defender like the former No. 4 overall pick.

However, as Fischer writes, the Bulls weren’t interested in discussing Williams during in-season trade talks for Jerami Grant, so it remains to be seen how open they’d be to including him in an offer for Gobert. If Williams is off the table, adding Coby White and Javonte Green would work from a salary-matching perspective, Fischer observes, but presumably the Jazz would be seeking a more substantial return for one of their two All-Stars.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • The Jazz offered Quin Snyder a variety of contract structures in an effort to keep him in Utah, but those offers were rebuffed, with Snyder deciding it was time to move on. The expectation in league circles is that Snyder – who is highly regarded by Spurs CEO R.C. Buford – would be the leading candidate for the coaching job in San Antonio when Gregg Popovich steps down, says Fischer.
  • The Jazz are still working on their list of head coaching targets and will begin to formally reach out to candidates in the coming days, according to Fischer. One of the names included in the team’s preliminary list of candidates was Terry Stotts, who has the same representation as Snyder and spent several weeks around the Jazz in 2021/22, Fischer notes.
  • While there’s some skepticism around the NBA about how much Jazz CEO Danny Ainge will cater to Donovan Mitchell, Ainge isn’t viewed as someone who “scours the market of the NBA’s up-and-coming head coaches,” Fischer writes. In other words, if Mitchell and team owner Ryan Smith both want to bring in former Jazz assistant Johnnie Bryant as Snyder’s replacement, Ainge likely wouldn’t stand in the way, sources tell Fischer.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Ainge, Finals, Nets

Brad Stevens made an unexpected decision to change roles one year ago, leaving his head coaching job and becoming the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. Boston then hired Ime Udoka as Stevens’ replacement.

While the decision to lean on a first-time executive and a first-time head coach were viewed as audacious, they ultimately led to the club’s first NBA Finals berth since 2010, Brian Windhorst of ESPN explores.

“It was a different situation that a lot of people may not think is appealing, but I think it’s only a benefit to have a guy that’s coached for seven, eight years in the building with the same guys down the hall,” Udoka said of Stevens.

“We talk about every situation [Stevens has] been through and kind of lend his support as far as that. But also step back and let me do my thing. In a unique situation, it’s helped out this year for sure.”

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic:

  • Former Celtics president Danny Ainge compared this year’s team to the 2007/08 team that won an NBA title, Jay King of The Athletic writes. Ainge sees shades of Kevin Garnett in Al Horford and likes the club’s outlook, complimenting its size and defensive intensity. “It’s a little bit like the team is structured now,” Ainge said.
  • In an Insider-only story for ESPN, Brian Windhorst examines how the Celtics are hoping to pass the Lakers by winning another championship. The Celtics and Lakers have both won 17 titles, so Boston could pass Los Angeles by defeating Golden State in the Finals this year.
  • Ian O’Connor of the New York Post details why the Nets will regret letting Ime Udoka go. Udoka served as an assistant with Brooklyn last season, but Boston offered him a head coaching job, so it’s difficult to blame Brooklyn. The team could’ve fired Steve Nash and replaced him with Udoka, but Nash was just hired the summer before and nearly guided the Nets to a series win over the NBA champion Bucks last year.

Atlantic Notes: Horford, Udoka, Ainge, Raptors

Al Horford, who was languishing with the rebuilding Thunder a year ago, is now headed to the NBA Finals in his second stint with the Celtics and couldn’t be more grateful, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes.

“On the phone, I would look at photos from a year ago, exactly what I was doing at the moment, and today my son actually graduated from kindergarten,” Horford said. “So I remember that we had pictures for him, and I picked him up from school, and we had the cupcakes and we had all this stuff. So it’s like perspective for me, like I always look back and see where I was just day to day. I’m just very grateful to be in this position with these guys.”

Horford, 35, has been a major factor in the Celtics’ run. He is averaging 11.9 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.6 BPG in the postseason. As we noted earlier, Horford now has a $19.5MM guarantee on his $26.5MM contract for next season.

“When he came back, that gave us a sense of security,” Marcus Smart said. “We got Al back there, he’s always going to make the right play on both ends.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Ime Udoka was the runner-up for numerous head coaching jobs but is glad that he wound up with the Celtics instead of a rebuilding team, he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports“You really want me to tell you? Detroit, Indiana, Cleveland,” Udoka said of the jobs he nearly got. “I can go down the list. That was tough because I believe I was ready. But I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of an organization that’s pushing for winning and championships. You can be in a lot of different situations. There are only 30 teams and I get that, but to not be in a rebuild and being in an expectation pressure-filled situation, I wouldn’t trade that in any day.”
  • In an interview with Heavy.com’s Steve Bulpett, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge offered high praise to the man who replaced him in Boston, former Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Getting Kemba Walker‘s contract off the books was a particularly shrewd move, according to Ainge. “I think that, by moving Kemba, it allowed Marcus, Jaylen (Brown) and Jayson (Tatum) and Robert Williams to really thrive in positional size, with Horford taking up a big responsibility in the front line for Robert and moving Jaylen, Jayson and Marcus to their positions where they can have size advantages.”
  • Fred VanVleet can re-enter the free agent market with a player option next summer and The Athletic’s John Hollinger believes the Raptors should pursue an extension with him in the range of $25MM annually. Hollinger and Eric Koreen takes a closer look at all the Raptors’ free agent, draft and extension decisions.

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Rosas, Jokubaitis, Ainge

In a recent interview with Michael Grady of YES Network (video link), Nets team president Sean Marks once again defended embattled Brooklyn guard Ben Simmons. Simmons, who missed the entire 2021/22 season due to mental health issues and a herniated disc in his lower back, had reportedly aimed to return in the first round of the playoffs, but experienced a setback.

“It’s a little bit of a testament that one, he tried to get back out there and tried to help his teammates and secondly, we have to be careful not judge people,” Marks said. “And if you’re outside that medical profession, when you’re chiming in from afar, you just have to be a bit careful of what you’re saying because you really don’t know.”

Simmons opted to treat the back injury with surgery after the Nets were officially eliminated in a 4-0 first-round sweep by the Celtics.

“Nobody wants to have surgery,” Marks said. “It’s the last resort but it’s bygone now and we’ve got to move forward on this, we’ve got to support him and so forth.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Timberwolves team president Gersson Rosas has an official title with the Knicks, having been named a senior basketball advisor, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Rosas was let go from Minnesota under murky circumstances and later joined the Knicks as a consultant. Begley notes that determining where Rosas slots in among the Knicks’ front office pecking order will be important during a critical 2022 offseason for New York.
  • The Knicks are considering leaving 2021 draft-and-stash second-round pick Rokas Jokubaitis, currently playing for Barcelona in the EuroLeague Final Four, overseas to develop for another year, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman opines that New York could have more flexibility to sign the point guard prospect in 2023, after several short-term Knicks contracts come off the books. Jokubaitis averaged 7.2 PPG and 2.8 APG across 17 MPG in 35 EuroLeague contests this season.
  • Former Celtics team president Danny Ainge, now in the Jazz front office, has enjoyed seeing the progress of his old team, writes Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. The Celtics are now trailing the Heat 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals. “I’ve been proud of this team all year,” Ainge said. “I really liked watching guys develop when I was there, and it’s been great watching guys like Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] and Marcus [Smart] and Rob [Williams] and all of them take another step this year. They just beat a great team, the defending champs.” Ainge drafted Tatum, Brown, Smart and Williams during his Celtics front office run.

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Conley, Snyder, Popovich, Graham

Speculation about the potential breakup of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appears to be fueled more by people outside of the Jazz organization than those within it, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says sources from the team and around the NBA believe that CAA has been responsible for many of the whispers involving Mitchell’s future.

According to Fischer, team owner Ryan Smith is willing to spend big on a contender, and Utah has no plans to rebuild. Smith also likes the idea of having multiple players in the 2023 All-Star Game, which the Jazz will host.

Although some rival executives believe a Gobert trade is a possibility and view the Mavericks, Hawks, and Raptors as potential destinations, Fischer says the Jazz are focused on upgrading their defense, so moving a three-time Defensive Player of the Year seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, complementary players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and perhaps even Mike Conley are considered more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer wonders if the Clippers or the Knicks might have interest in Conley, another CAA client. With the Jazz seeking help on the wing, Evan Fournier could theoretically headline a Knicks offer for Conley if they miss out on Jalen Brunson, says Fischer, though he notes that some staffers in New York would prefer to stay in-house and give Immanuel Quickley an expanded role.

As for the Clippers, Fischer is skeptical that a Conley trade offer centered around sharpshooter Luke Kennard would appeal to a Utah team looking to improve its defense and suggests that a more realistic point guard target for L.A. would be John Wall, assuming he and the Rockets work out a buyout. Wall has also been linked to the Heat, but Fischer’s sources believe Miami’s interest predated last year’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s “little expectation” among people close to the situation that Quin Snyder will leave the Jazz before his contract expires in 2023, says Fischer. Snyder also holds an option for the 2023/24 season.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge doesn’t appear inclined to shake up the team’s basketball operations department. According to Fischer, major changes would likely only occur if former head of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey gets a top front office job elsewhere and wants to bring some Utah executives with him.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is traveling and considering his coaching future, plans to visit Belgrade for the EuroLeague Final Four later this month, a source tells Fischer. The general sense is that Popovich seems interested in coaching San Antonio for at least one more season, Fischer adds.
  • The Pelicans are among the teams believed to be considering a possible point guard upgrade this offseason, reports Fischer. Devonte’ Graham saw his role reduced significantly in the playoffs and some people around the league think he could end up on the trade block this offseason, but sources tell Fischer the Pels aren’t motivated to move on from Graham like they were with Eric Bledsoe a year ago.

Atlantic Notes: Boucher, Lillard, Knicks, Ainge, Celtics, Bassey

Raptors big man Chris Boucher is set to enter unrestricted free agency this summer, but he hasn’t thought much about it to this point. Boucher ended his season with a 25-point, 10-rebound effort off the bench in Game 6, telling reporters how much he h as valued the Raptors and Toronto.

“I love Toronto and Toronto did a lot for me …. from the player I was to where I am now, I owe it all to Toronto,” he said, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link).

As Grange notes, it’s clear where Boucher’s heart lies. However, he’ll likely receive interest from multiple teams on the open market, as he averaged 9.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 21.1 minutes per game this season. He also shot 46% from the floor and played 80 games.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, long considered a potential Knicks trade target, is no longer intrigued by New York’s plan, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. The Knicks finished with the 11th-best record in the East at 37-45 this season after finishing fourth in the East at 41-31 last season. Instead of targeting Lillard, New York could shift its focus to Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, whose team was recently eliminated in the first round.
  • Despite taking a job with the Jazz, Danny Ainge still keeps tabs on the Celtics, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Ainge left the Celtics last June and joined the Jazz as CEO last December. He worked in the Celtics’ front office for 18 years.
  • Sixers rookie Charles Bassey practiced in full with the team on Saturday, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com tweets. Bassey has been dealing with a shoulder sprain. The 21-year-old big man could be available for the club’s series against Miami, which could be important with Joel Embiid out indefinitely. Bassey averaged 18.3 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.6 blocks for the team’s G League affiliate this season, playing 28.6 minutes per contest.

Northwest Notes: Ainge, Jazz, Hyland, Nowell, Wolves

Jazz owner Ryan Smith pitched Danny Ainge on the idea of taking on a role with the franchise during a recent trip to the Bahamas for Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge golf tournament, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon. The two men had discussions during the trip about the concept of Ainge coming aboard, then worked out a deal when they returned to Utah, resulting in the Jazz hiring Ainge as their CEO and alternate governor.

“I’ve never been ready to talk about this before, but Ryan and I had a chance to spend a lot of time together,” Ainge said, explaining that he took the last six months to spend time with family and decompress. “We hashed it out, and we were both excited about this opportunity. I think it was the timing more than anything.”

Ainge will oversee Utah’s basketball operations and will work closely with general manager Justin Zanik, who will continue to run the day-to-day operations. As Eric Walden and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune write, the team is enthusiastic about the idea of a “collaborative” approach to the front office and isn’t all that interested in establishing a linear hierarchy in which one person ultimately makes all the decisions.

“If you’re in the league, everyone knows to call Justin right now. I think that’s pretty clear,” Smith said. “(But) I think when it comes to decision-making, we’re the kind of culture where it doesn’t really work that way. … When it comes to that, you want to be right a lot more than you’re wrong, because some decisions aren’t clear. Bringing Danny on board helps increase our chances of getting that right.”

Sources close to Ainge told Tony Jones and Jared Weiss of The Athletic that the veteran executive always wanted a Jerry West-type role that would give him the flexibility to play plenty of golf and spend time with his grandchildren. He’ll work with the Jazz every day, but won’t be putting in the 16- and 18-hour days that he became accustomed to in Boston.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Dan Clayton of Salt City Hoops, writing for The Salt Lake Tribune, provides a trade primer for the Jazz, examining the team’s needs, expendable assets, and possible targets.
  • Nuggets guard Bones Hyland was held out of Wednesday’s game for a violation of team rules, but will be available on Friday in Atlanta, according to reports from Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports and Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter links).
  • Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell has been out of the rotation for most of the season, but has appeared in the last there games and logged a season-high 15 minutes last Friday. Nowell is hoping that he can carve out a more regular role, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes. The stakes are particularly high for the 22-year-old, whose 2021/22 salary still isn’t fully guaranteed.
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the chemistry that’s developing between the Timberwolves‘ two young franchise cornerstones, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. “If me and KAT just lock in here with each other, I feel like we will win so many more games,” Edwards said of his star teammate. “… He dominates, man. He can shoot, he can drive, he can pass, he can do everything. So playing with him makes my game a lot easier.”

Jazz Hire Danny Ainge As Alternate Governor, CEO

1:29pm: The Jazz have officially announced Ainge’s hiring, issuing a press release to confirm the news.

Rarely do you get an opportunity to come into a franchise that is this close to being a special team,” Ainge told Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). “It’s a very unique opportunity.”


12:48pm: The Jazz are hiring Danny Ainge to be the franchise’s alternate governor and CEO, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). The former Celtics executive will oversee Utah’s basketball operations, with Justin Zanik remaining in the general manager role, per Wojnarowski.

Since Ainge stepped down from his position in Boston earlier this year, Utah has been repeatedly cited as a potential landing spot for him. Ainge played his college ball at BYU and is close with team owner and governor Ryan Smith. Additionally, the Jazz have undergone some front office changes in 2021, having reassigned executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey to an advisory role, which opened the door to bring in someone new like Ainge.

At the time of Lindsey’s demotion, reports indicated that Zanik had essentially been running the day-to-day operations of the front office since 2019. It seems likely he’ll continue to do so, since Ainge recently suggested he’d prefer to join a new team as a “helper,” rather than as someone who works “18-hour days.”

Ainge’s title indicates he’ll be above Zanik in the front office hierarchy, but Wojnarowski says (via Twitter) the two executives will “work closely.”

Ainge previously served as the president of basketball operations in Boston from 2003-21. The Celtics made the postseason in all but three of his 18 seasons running the front office, taking home a championship in 2008. Ainge’s trades for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen helped lead the Celtics to that title.

The 2013 blockbuster deal that sent an aging Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets for a boatload of draft picks is considered one of the biggest NBA heists of the century, putting Boston in position to land Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in subsequent drafts. However, while the C’s made three Eastern Finals appearances during Ainge’s last few years in Boston, that team could never quite get over the hump, with major additions like Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving not panning out as hoped.

In Utah, Ainge will inherit a roster that appears on the verge of title contention, with Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Royce O’Neale, and Rudy Gay all locked up for multiple seasons.

Danny Ainge Open To “Right Role” With New Team

When Danny Ainge stepped down from his position as Boston’s president of basketball operations in June, the Celtics’ official statement indicated that he was “retiring” from his role with the franchise. However, reports at the time suggested Ainge likely wasn’t ready to retire from basketball altogether, and he confirmed as much this week in an interview with Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston.

“I’m not closing the book on other opportunities, but it’d have to be the right situation,” Ainge told Forsberg. “I’d have to be working with the right people in the right role. I don’t want to get back into 18-hour days. I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest, for that matter. But I know how much work it takes to be good at the job.

“At the same time, I have 40 years of experience in the NBA and I think I have a lot to offer some team that might see me as a helper to people in the organization. But yeah, just depending on what the role is.”

Ainge’s comments suggest he’s probably not prepared to take on another president of basketball operations job, given the commitment that position requires. And based on his résumé, it’s hard to imagine him taking on an assistant GM-type role. The most likely fit for Ainge might be as a senior advisor to a team’s head of basketball operations.

The Jazz and Trail Blazers have previously been cited as possibilities for Ainge. He’s close with Jazz owner Ryan Smith, and was born and raised in Oregon, having also spent a couple seasons in Portland as a player.

Both Northwest clubs have undergone some front office changes in the last year, with Justin Zanik replacing Dennis Lindsey as the head of basketball operations in Utah, while Neil Olshey was recently let go by the Blazers. However, it’s unclear whether either organization is eyeing Ainge as a candidate to be part of its revamped front office.