Danny Ainge retired from his role as the Boston Celtics‘ President of Basketball Operations at the end of the 2020-21 NBA Season.
Brad Stevens made the step up from his role as head coach into Ainge’s now-vacated role, and thus, a summer of change within the Celtics franchise was born. Of course, Ainge may no longer be part of the NBA’s day-to-day operations, but that doesn’t stop the occasional rumor surfacing about a potential return to an NBA teams’ front office.
In mid-November, Ainge was linked with being a potential candidate for the Portland Trail Blazers GM role, should Neil Olshey depart from the franchise. As fate would have it, Olshey left the Trail Blazers at the start of December, and that role remains open to applicants.
It makes sense then that Ainge would face questions about his intentions – does he plan to stay in retirement? Or is he missing the excitement of leading a franchise towards the promised land?
Speaking to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg in early December, Ainge noted that should the right opportunity present itself. He could be persuaded into returning to an NBA front office.
“I’m not closing the book on other opportunities, but they’d have to be the right situation. 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 anybody’s best interests,” Ainge said when asked about his future plans.
Ainge Frustrated With Celtics Injury Issues
During his interview with Forsberg, Ainge noted where his frustrations with this current Celtics team lie and why those frustrations are similar to what he felt last season.
“Last year, I think we lost more players to injury and COVID than any other team, and I think that’s part of it. And this year’s the same way. I think one of the most frustrating things about the team, last year and this year, is every day you’re looking at the injury report to see who’s playing. It’s just been one day after another. When you’re missing two or three key players each night, it takes a toll,” Ainge said.
In recent years, the Celtics have struggled for health, leading some sections of Celtics Twitter to dub the team’s bench rotation the “Hospital Celtics,” and this season has been no different. Jaylen Brown has been in and out of the rotation, along with Rob Williams, Josh Richardson, and to a lesser extent, Romeo Langford.
With so many rotational changes each week, we’ve seldom seen Boston’s full-strength roster, which hasn’t allowed Ime Udoka much time with his preferred starting five nor his select bench unit. As such, the Celtics have mainly been inconsistent throughout the first three months of the 2021-22 season and project to be that way moving forwards unless the team can finally shake their injury bug.
Ainge Could Look for Consultancy Role
Judging by his comments, It’s clear that Ainge doesn’t wish to return to a prominent role within an NBA front office. Yet, not leading a franchise doesn’t mean you can’t find an opportunity to help shape a team’s future.
When thinking of possible opportunities for Ainge, it would make sense to look out West and note how the Los Angeles Clippers are making use of Jerry West. “The Logo” has been on the Clippers’ staff for multiple years at this point, operating in a consultancy/advisory role, where he offers thoughts on drafting, scouting, and also uses his connections around the league to help facilitate trades and such,
Ainge has the experience, and championship know-how, to command a similar role to West. Sure, an advisory role would still entail multiple days in the office each week, but there would be a far lighter workload on Ainge’s shoulders, allowing him to enjoy some aspects of retirement still.
However, it would seem there are no firm offers on the table for the former Celtics’ President of Basketball Operations, so we may hear many more rumors before seeing something concrete.
And if we’re being honest, there’s just as much chance Ainge remains retired, enjoying the Utah golf courses, as there is that he returns to the hustle and bustle of the daily NBA grind.