Boston Celtics shakeup: Brad Stevens replacing Danny Ainge as team president

Sports

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens directs his team against the Brooklyn Nets in the first half of Game 5 during an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, June 1, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

(AP) — The Boston Celtics shook up their front office on Wednesday, a day after they were eliminated from the playoffs, with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge retiring and coach Brad Stevens moving up to the front office to replace him.

The moves came about 12 hours after the 17-time NBA champions lost to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. The Celtics, who reached the conference finals in three of the previous four seasons, had flirted with a top seed in the East for much of the season before stumbling into the play-in round.

Celtics staff were informed Wednesday morning of the moves, which were first reported by ESPN and The Athletic.

Ainge has spent the bulk of his NBA career with the Celtics, serving as the team’s president since 2003 and being part of the 1984 and 1986 NBA championship teams in Boston as a player. He was voted the league’s top executive in 2008, the year in which Boston won its 17th and most recent NBA championship.

Stevens spent eight years as Boston’s coach, taking the Celtics to the playoffs the last seven seasons. He is the fourth-winningest coach in team history, behind Red Auerbach, Tom Heinsohn and Doc Rivers.

Stevens did not allude to the looming moves in his final news conference following the loss in Brooklyn, though he pointed to Boston’s future.

“We didn’t play perfect basketball, but we showed a lot of growth in the past few weeks, both individually and at times collectively,” Stevens said. “And so, there’s stuff to build off of. But at the same time, the task is tall and if you want to be in the mix, then you’ve got to be better than we were.”

General manager and President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge of the Boston Celtics attends a game between the Celtics and the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2019 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 11, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ainge is retirement was announced June 2, 2021 and coach Brad Stevens is moving up to the front office to replace him.
(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Celtics struggled with injuries this season, needed to win a play-in game just to get into the playoffs and fell well short of the expectation of contending for a championship — especially after reaching the East finals in the NBA bubble last season and losing to Miami.

“You can improve through continued development and the right work ethic and doing a good job with the developmental stuff,” Stevens said. “Then, obviously, there is the ability to acquire people. This team that beat us is a very good team. There are very good teams across the East and we have to get better. We never got a true look at this team this year, but I think we have enough information that shows that we need to get better.”

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