The Boston Celtics’ major shake-up came as a bit of a shock Wednesday morning, but the reshuffling has been in the works.
The Celtics shocked the basketball world with their announcement that Danny Ainge is “retiring.” Former head coach Brad Stevens will fill Ainge’s vacated president of basketball operations role.
Stevens’ move upstairs is a bit of a stunner, although it became fairly evident a new voice might benefit the team. Ainge’s decision was one we probably could have seen coming. In addition to whispers about his future with the team, Ainge’s health issues are well documented.
Ainge said Wednesday the decision came on his radar two years ago when he suffered a heart attack.
“When I had a heart attack two years, I started thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I think my life expectancy is maybe a little lower,” the 62-year-old Ainge said in a video conference.
Unsurprisingly, the heart attack put a scare in Ainge’s family, and they suggested he start thinking about his future even back then. Now, after two frustrating Celtics seasons with a pandemic mixed in, Ainge made the move.
“It was my decision,” he stated. ” … These last two years have been tough. In the bubble and the rules and scrutiny and protocols we’ve had to go through, the job hasn’t been as much fun. I don’t know if there was a moment in time, but I trust my instincts. My instincts a couple of months ago told me it was to move on.”
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck also stressed it was Ainge’s decision to leave.
As for Stevens’ direction, that started to come into focus as the season progressed.
“The thought of going into this position was never a thought because Danny was here, and he was the best at it and the best to work for,” Stevens told reporters Wednesday. “When he decided it was time to move on and retire and enjoy more time with his family, we talked a little bit about whatever it was.”
Stevens’ institutional knowledge and basketball acumen made him a clear prospect.
“I think Brad and Danny discussed this years ago casually, without telling me,” Grousbeck joked.
The Celtics owner added: “We’ve gotten to know Brad over the last eight years and learn the depth of his basketball brilliance ? Brad’s fingerprints and DNA are on this team right now.”
Now, Stevens gets his chance to mold the Celtics even more in his vision.
First order of business? Finding his successor.