Danny Ainge retires, Brad Stevens transitioning to front office as Celtics undergo massive shake-up

Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics. (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics. (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is retiring and head coach Brad Stevens is transitioning into a role with the front office.

Big changes are coming to the Boston Celtics with Danny Ainge retiring as President of Basketball Operations and head coach Brad Stevens transitioning into a role with the front office.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news of Ainge thinking about his future. The Athletic’s Shams Charnia was first on Stevens moving to the front office.

“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,” said Ainge in a press release. “I’m grateful to ownership, all of my Celtics colleagues, and the best fans in basketball for being part of the journey.”

Ainge has been successful during his time as the Celtics executive but has recently been an easy target of criticism among fans.

Ainge was the architect behind the Celtics trading for Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett to form a Big Three with Paul Pierce and winning the 2008 NBA Finals against the rival Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant. Ainge was named the Executive of the Year for his work assembling the NBA champions.

Big changes coming to Celtics: Danny Ainge resigns, Brad Stevens to front office

Before that, he traded away Antoine Walker and feuded with coach Jim O’Brien, which didn’t ingratiate himself with the Celtics faithful. However, bringing a championship back to the franchise helped fans forget all about his “Trader Danny” reputation.

Ainge also oversaw the disintegration of the Big Three when he traded Pierce and Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets for five players and first-round picks in 2014, 2016, 2018 and the right to swap picks in 2017. It is considered one of the most lopsided deals in NBA history that the Celtics clearly were beneficiaries of.

Ainge later was responsible for trading for All-Star guard Kyrie Irving but while Irving’s stay in Boston wasn’t as long as Ainge or Celtics fans would have hoped, it was the type of move that Ainge should be commended for making.

He is also responsible for drafting budding superstar Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as well as hiring Stevens out of Butler. Now, it’s Stevens who will be the one who will hire his successor in a big shake-up for the Celtics following their first-round exit of the NBA Playoffs.

Wojnarowski reports Stevens was burned out after coaching in the bubble last season and was receptive to the coaching-to-executive transition which is what Ainge did when he left the Suns bench for their front office.

“I’m grateful to ownership and to Danny for trusting me with this opportunity,” said Stevens. “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.”

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