The morning after the Boston Celtics were eliminated from the NBA playoffs by the Brooklyn Nets, major changes are coming to the franchise.
The team announced Wednesday that general manager and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is retiring after 18 years. Current head coach Brad Stevens is being promoted to replace him as president of basketball operations. The news was first reported by Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
"Helping guide this organization has been the thrill of a lifetime, and having worked side-by-side with him since he's been here, I know we couldn't be in better hands than with Brad guiding the team going forward," Ainge said in a statement released by the team. "I'm grateful to ownership, all of my Celtics colleagues, and the best fans in basketball for being part of the journey."
Stevens' first job as president of basketball ops will be to hire his own replacement.
"I'm grateful to ownership and to Danny for trusting me with this opportunity," Stevens said in the statement. "I'm excited to tackle this new role, starting with a wide ranging and comprehensive search for our next head coach. I love the Celtics, and know the great honor and responsibility that comes with this job. I will give it everything I have to help us be in position to consistently compete for championships."
Ainge's long career with Celtics
Ainge, 62, has been connected to the Celtics since the mid-1980s, winning championships as a Celtics player in 1984 and 1986. He was brought back to the team as an executive in 2003 by owner Wyc Grousbeck, who bought the team less than a year earlier. After a previous decade of decent but mostly bad teams, Ainge's hiring turned the franchise in an upward direction.
Within five years the Celtics won a championship, in no small part due to the trades Ainge made to form the "Big Three" alongside Paul Pierce, bringing in Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Ray Allen from the Seattle SuperSonics. In their 2007-08 championship season, the Celtics had a league-best record of 66-16, and Ainge won executive of the year. He remains the only person in Celtics history to win a championship as both a player and an executive.
That success kicked off a run of 12 playoff appearances in the next 13 years, but 2007-08 remains Ainge's only championship season. They made it back to the Finals one more time in 2010, but lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Stevens' career with the Celtics hasn't been as long. He came to the team in 2013 after an incredible six-year run with the Butler Bulldogs, having taken them to the Sweet Sixteen in 2007 and all the way to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011. In his eight years as Celtics head coach he has a 354-282 record, and has taken the team to the Eastern Conference finals three times.
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