After nearly two decades at the helm, Danny Ainge recently stepped down from his role as the Boston Celtics‘ president of basketball operations, handing those duties over to Brad Stevens. However, as it turns out, the “retired” 62-year-old Ainge may not actually be all that retired.
Ainge hinted at the idea of not being quite ready to call it a career at his exit press conference (via Boston.com), telling reporters “I don’t know what my future holds; I don’t have any plans — I’ll think about the future somewhere in the future.” He later added that he is “looking forward to the next chapter.”
Turns out the next chapter in Ainge’s career may still take place in an NBA front office, just within a new conference.
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Ainge Interested in Jobs With Utah Jazz & Portland Trail Blazers
Ainge, an Oregon native and a BYU alumn (located in Provo, Utah), appears to be fond of the thought of returning to his roots. Since his exit from Boston, multiple reports have linked the former NBA Executive of the Year to potential gigs with the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers.
Per Sports Illustrated Chris Mannix, a role with Utah has been seen as a “potential next step” for Ainge in his career for some time now.
“As Danny Ainge moves on from Boston, a possible landing spot, in some capacity: The Utah Jazz,” Mannix tweeted. “As rumors of Ainge’s exit rippled through the NBA in recent months, a role with the Jazz has been seen as a potential next step.”
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently appeared on The Ryen Russillo Podcast, backing Mannix’s notion that Ainge would be interested in a job with the Jazz, yet claiming that the franchise is unlikely to bite on such a move. The NBA columnist then proceeded to float Ainge’s interest in the Trail Blazers as a potential destination.
“He has interest in Utah, it’s just that Utah won’t hire him,” O’Connor stated. “And that there’d also be some interest in Portland if Neil Olshey were to move on from that franchise… But, you know, Ainge is from Portland, maybe that could be another opportunity for him but either way there’s no guarantees here that he gets a job immediately.”
Ainge’s Family Roots in Utah
Ainge admitted at his press conference that stepping down from his role with the Celtics had been a decision weighing on him ever since he suffered a heart attack back in 2019.
“You’re surrounded by your six children in the hospital and they’re saying, ‘Hey, you need to quit doing this for work, it’s causing you too much stress,’” Ainge said. “That’s probably when I started thinking about it. And these last two years have been tough. In the bubble and all the rules and scrutiny and protocols that we had to go through has not made the job as much fun.”
While a hypothetical move to the Jazz’s front office — likely in a diminished role — wouldn’t completely override the stresses of the everyday grind, it would at least bring him closer to his family. Ainge’s son Tanner is a Utah County Commissioner, while Tanner’s brother Crew played basketball at Utah State. According to KSL Sports, several members of Ainge’s family remain in the state.