Jayson Tatum ‘Shocked’ by Celtics Changes; Danny Ainge Eyeing Return

Jayson Tatum shocked by Danny Ainge retirement

Getty Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics reacts after a call during the second half against the Brooklyn Nets.

The Boston Celtics blindsided many — their franchise cornerstone included — with their front office turnover this offseason. Less than 24 hours after being booted from the playoffs by the Brooklyn Nets, team executive Danny Ainge “retired” from his helm as the Celtics’ president of basketball operations. Brad Stevens, who had just completed his eighth season as coach, moved upstairs to fill Ainge’s position, ultimately making way for Ime Udoka to land his first-ever head coaching gig.

“I was shocked. It wasn’t like I saw it coming,” Tatum said of Ainge’s exit, per the Boston Globes Gary Washburn. “I’m happy for him. Something that he and his family discussed, but he felt like it was best for him. It made sense and I still have a good relationship with him. I don’t think anything will change in that aspect. He did what he thought was best for himself and his family. Sometimes change can be good, so we’ll see.”

As for Stevens, his move to trade in his clipboard for a front office seat will come with its fair share of adjusting from numerous parties. That includes Tatum, who will now be looking at the only head coach he’s ever known over his four-year Celtics tenure through a “different lens.” Still, the two-time All-Star expects things to be as business as usual when push comes to shove. 

“I’m just going to go with it,” Tatum said. “Obviously it’s a change going from my coach to being in the front office. Seeing him in a different lens. But it’s the business of basketball. It happened and you gotta keep going.”

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Danny Ainge: ‘I Want to Work Again’

Ainge potentially wanting back in the league shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The former NBA executive of the year never quite sounded content with the idea of retirement. Hell, he couldn’t even make it through his exit press conference without laying the seeds for an impending endeavor.

“I don’t know what my future holds; I don’t have any plans — I’ll think about the future somewhere in the future.” Ainge said, later adding that he was “looking forward to the next chapter.”

Fast forward approximately a month and a half, and Ainge’s future looks a lot more clear.

“I want to work again,” Ainge told the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy. “I just don’t want to do the crazy lifestyle that I had for the last 18 years. I have nothing right now. I just got done with a long walk and swim this morning. And taking my wife to tennis. We just got back from spending lots of time with our parents that we haven’t seen since the pandemic started, so we had some good times with our family and there’s nothing on the horizon as I see it.”

Ainge Headed to Utah?

When The Athletic’s Tony Jones reported that Ainge was “in play” for a front-office role with the Jazz, it didn’t come as much of a surprise. The Ainge family roots run deep in the state of Utah. Danny, an alumnus of local Brigham Young University, has several family members who remain in the area according to KSL Sports. His son Crew played basketball at Utah State, while Crew’s brother Tanner is a Utah County Commissioner. 

As Jones noted, Justin Zanik will lead the front office in Utah, seemingly aligning with Ainge’s desire to lighten his personal workload moving forward.

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Ainge, 62, put his $4.5 million Wellesley, Massachusetts home up for sale last month, per Realtor.com. Yet, according to the three-time NBA champion, that doesn’t exactly mean he’s destined for a move to Utah — or even out of the Northeast for that matter.

“The house is for sale but we’re not moving for sure,” Ainge noted. “We’re not certain on that.”


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