Utah Jazz Adds Danny Ainge to Main Office


Owner Ryan Smith brought in the old Celtics GM to oversee the team’s basketball operations.

(Elise Amendola | AP) The Boston Celtics general manager of basketball, Danny Ainge, speaks during a news conference in Boston, Monday, June 24, 2019.

After experiencing a seismic hit to their main office this season, the Utah Jazz are now experiencing a second just a few months later.

Team owner Ryan Smith will be bringing in former Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge as Governor and CEO instead – bringing him in to oversee the team’s basketball operations. Ainge will serve above current GM Justin Zanik, who will retain his role. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report.

“We have great aspirations for the Smith Entertainment Group and the Utah Jazz. Danny is one of the best basketball minds in the world and he’s also very passionate about this state and our community,” Smith said in a statement. “We believe in adding the best talent to all aspects of our organization and are fortunate to have Danny’s acumen and experience. … We couldn’t be more excited to bring Danny on board to work alongside Justin, Quin and me. Danny will make our organization stronger in pursuit of our common goal – winning the NBA title. ”

This move comes just six months after a long time Basketball Executive Chairman Dennis Lindsey is fired move into an advisory role – a move largely ended by Smith to change the operational structure of the basketball decision-making team.

Ainge, a former BYU star who is a personal friend of Smith, has stepped down as president of the Celtics’ basketball operations this season after spending 18 years with the organization. During his tenure, the Celtics won the 2008 NBA Finals, reached three Eastern Conference finals, and brought in current stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.

“I have known and respected Ryan and Ashley Smith for many years. What they’re doing here in Utah is amazing, and I’m excited to be part of their vision for the Jazz and Smith Entertainment Group as a whole,” Ainge said in the statement. “Joining Jazz was a natural and perfect fit for me, as my roots in Utah are deep and strong. This is a team with a great background in players and people, and Justin and Quin are doing an incredible job. I’m excited to partner with them, be a resource, and share my perspective as we work together to give our fans the success they deserve. ”

While Ainge’s departure from the Celtics is seen as retiring, he did not rule out working with another basketball team in the future during his last press conference in the Celtics. Since then, Ainge has been with the Jazz in the rumor mill thanks to his long relationship with Smith – but says he didn’t decide until recent days to join the Jazz.

“People always ask, ‘Is this the plan?’ Well, that was definitely not Danny’s plan until last week,” Smith told ESPN.

“Rarely do you get the chance to join a franchise that comes close to being an exceptional team. It’s a very unique opportunity,” Ainge said.

This story will be updated. Utah Jazz Adds Danny Ainge to Main Office

Beth Allcock

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