The Boston Celtics are making multiple moves in the front office following their exit from the 2021 NBA Playoffs. General manager and President of Basketball Ops Danny Ainge is stepping down from his position with the team, per multiple reports. Brad Stevens is transitioning from head coach to a role in the front office. So Ainge is out and Stevens is going to help with the search for a new head coach.
Update: The Celtics have announced the news and Ainge is retiring from his role in the front office while Stevens is promoted to President of Basketball Operations.
Update: Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports is reporting the Celtics are expected to consider Jason Kidd and Lloyd Pierce as candidates for the head coaching position. Kidd has served as a Lakers assistant recently and Pierce was fired by the Atlanta Hawks this season and replaced by Nate McMillan.
The Celtics lost to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 on Tuesday night, ending their season early again. Stevens had coached eight seasons in Boston, making the playoffs in each of the past seven campaigns. Each of those playoff berths resulted in losing before the NBA Finals. Stevens and the Celtics made it to the Eastern Conference Finals on three occasions but could never get over that hump. There were a lot of factors that played into the losses, including injuries to key players.
The Celtics are likely keeping Stevens because of his ability to identify talent and basketball IQ. Ainge joined the Celtics front office in 2003 after playing with the franchise from 1981-1989, winning two championships with the Larry Bird dynasty.
Ainge is best known for assembling what many considered the first super team. He already had an All-Star in Paul Pierce and he went out and got two more in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, which helped the franchise reach the 2008 NBA Finals, beating the Lakers in six games.
Then, after the first Big 3 was dissolving, Ainge somehow flipped Garnett and Pierce to the same Nets franchise that just knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs. At the time, the trade was considered a fleecing and many believed it would be something the Nets would take a while to recover from. That was the case but it seems Brooklyn made out OK in the end. While the Celtics accumulated picks that led to the Kyrie Irving trade and drafting Jayson Tatum, Boston was unable to turn it into a championship.
Reports are saying Ainge may go and take a front office spot somewhere with the Utah Jazz, per Chris Mannix. Ainge took a lot of risks running the Celtics basketball ops and some of them paid off, others didn’t. He knows a lot about the game and how things work, but also is defined by two big moves in trades that seemed kind of suspect at the time. You don’t really see teams getting fleeced like that in the NBA anymore.
Stevens was viewed as one of the up and coming coaches in the League who would likely compete for championships. It’s a bit surprising to see him opt to take a front office role rather than coach. It could be more personally driven than anything, but it also would have made more sense for Stevens to go back to the college ranks if he did in fact want to continue coaching. He’s still young so this likely isn’t the last time we see Stevens coach basketball.