Danny Ainge, Celtics President of Basketball Operations retiring; coach Brad Stevens taking over role

Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

(BOSTON) — The Boston Celtics have announced President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge is retiring and head coach Brad Stevens is taking over the role.

A search for a new head coach will start immediately. Ainge will continue to work with the team through the transition.

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

Ainge, a former Celtics player who won an NBA title in 1984 and 1986 with the team, has been with the team the past 18 years and led them to the 2008 NBA Championship, which featured Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett. His team’s made the playoffs 15 times in 18 years.

“Danny has made all the difference over the past 18 years – our record of winning percentage and playoff victories is near the top of the league during that time. He has always been a relentless competitor and a winner. Red Auerbach told us Danny is ‘lucky,’ and he was right, but a lot of the luck came from his intense drive and his incredible basketball insights,” said Wyc Grousbeck, Celtics Co-Owner, and Governor. “Turning to Brad is a natural next step, since we have built a partnership over the past eight years, and he is a special basketball mind. We want him to lead us into the next great era of Celtics basketball.”

He guided the team through a rapid rebuild in 2013 by trading Piece and Garnett for future lottery picks which turned into Celtics All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

That summer Ainge hired Stevens from Butler University after former head coach Doc Rivers joined the Los Angeles Clippers. Steven’s led the Bulldogs to back-to-back National Championship games in 2010 and 2011, missing out on a title  in 2010 after Gordon Hayward’s last-second three-pointer rang off the rim.

Stevens had a 354-282 record, including seven consecutive playoffs and three Eastern Conference Finals appearances.

“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 [a] position to consistently compete for championships.”

The move comes the day after the Celtics lost in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to the Brooklyn Nets, losing the series 4-1.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Ainge has been thinking about this for a few months.

Ainge has been contemplating leaving the job for several months and had been talking about possible succession plans with ownership, sources tell ESPN. Stevens turns out to be the franchise’s choice. Ainge also moved from head coaching in the NBA to the front office with Phoenix.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn)June 2, 2021

Wojnarowski adds Stevens has felt ‘worn down’ since last year’s NBA Playoff Bubble.

Boston finished seventh in the Eastern Conference this year with a 36-36 record.

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