A little over six months ago, former BYU basketball star Danny Ainge stepped down from his role as president of basketball operations for the Boston Celtics after 18 years, and almost immediately there was speculation he would end up working for the Utah Jazz after Dennis Lindsey left a similar role with the Jazz a few weeks later.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that such would indeed be the case.
Wojnarowski reported that Ainge will have the titles of alternate governor and CEO. Wojnarowski added that “Ainge will oversee basketball and Justin Zanik will remain (general manager).”
The Utah Jazz are hiring Danny Ainge as alternate governor and CEO, sources tell ESPN. Ainge will oversee basketball and Justin Zanik will remain GM.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 15, 2021
The Deseret News confirmed it a short time later, and the team formally announced the news after that.
“We have big aspirations for Smith Entertainment Group and the Utah Jazz,” team owner Ryan Smith, who is a close friend of Ainge’s, said in a statement. “Danny is one of the best basketball minds in the world and he’s also passionate about this state and our community.
“We believe in adding the best talent to all facets of our organization and are lucky to have Danny’s acumen and experience.
It is not exactly clear how Ainge’s duties will mesh with Zanik’s, but Smith said, “The Jazz are in great hands with the incredible leadership of general manager Justin Zanik and head coach Quin Snyder. We couldn’t be more excited to bring Danny on board to work alongside Justin, Quin and me. Danny will help make our organization stronger in pursuit of our collective goal — winning an NBA title.”
Said Ainge in a statement: “I have known and respected Ryan and Ashley Smith for many years. What they are doing here in Utah is amazing and I am excited to be a part of their vision for the Jazz and Smith Entertainment Group as a whole.
“Joining the Jazz was a natural and perfect fit for me, as my roots in Utah are deep and strong. This is a team that has a tremendous foundation of players and people, and Justin and Quin are doing an amazing job. I am excited to collaborate with them, be a resource, and share the perspective I have as we work together to bring our fans the success that they deserve.”
Ainge and his wife Michelle recently moved to Utah, and he will begin his new role immediately.