Danny Ainge has stepped down from the Boston Celtics front office just hours after they were eliminated from the NBA playoffs with Brad Stevens giving up his job as coach to replace his former boss as president of basketball operations.
Ainge, 62, who helped bring two NBA titles to Boston as a player and another as the team’s basketball chief, announced his retirement after 18 seasons but will assist during the transition this off-season.
A search for a new head coach will begin immediately with Stevens responsible for finding his replacement.
The 44-year-old leaves as the fourth-winningest coach in franchise history, but one who failed to hang a championship banner from the rafters.
“Hiring a new coach will give us a great opportunity to hire somebody that will be … a new, fresh voice with a new, fresh perspective,” Stevens said.
“They don’t have to fill Doc Rivers’ shoes, like I did. And they don’t have to fill Danny Ainge’s shoes, like I do.
“They just have to figure out a way to be better than the last guy.”
Stevens’ eight-season NBA coaching win-loss record is 354-282 and his team made the conference finals three times.
This year’s team flirted with a top-four seed in the East before losing 10 of their last 15 regular season games and falling into the play-in round.
The high-profile admin and coaching moves came less than a day after the Celtics lost to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series to be eliminated.
During Ainge’s tenure, the Celtics made 15 play-off appearances, seven Eastern Conference finals and two NBA Finals – winning won the championship in 2008, for franchise’s 17th and first in 22 years.
As a player with the Celtics, Ainge won NBA titles in 1984 and ’86.
“It was my decision…I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t have any plans. ” Ainge said on Wednesday.
“Right now my goal is to get Brad up to speed on the draft … put the Celtics in the best place they can be. I’ll make the decision on the future somewhere in the future.”