Could Danny Ainge Help The Jazz?

Jun 2, 2021, 12:47 PM | Updated: 12:51 pm
Former Boston Celtics President Danny Ainge (Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Could Danny Ainge be headed to the Utah Jazz?

After one of the most frustrating seasons in franchise history, Ainge is leaving his role as President of the Boston Celtics with no immediate plans for his future.

However, it didn’t take long for rumors to emerge on where the longtime front office member could land.

“As Danny Ainge moves on from Boston, a possible landing spot, in some capacity: The Utah Jazz,” Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix tweeted. “As rumors of Ainge’s exit rippled through the NBA in recent months, a role with the Jazz has been seen as a potential next step.”

It should come as no surprise that Ainge would be tied to the Jazz. The former Celtics guard played college basketball at Brigham Young University in Provo, and several members of Ainge’s family remain in the state.

Son Tanner works in the Utah Governor’s office while Crew Ainge played basketball for two seasons at Utah State.

But what role would Ainge fill with the Jazz?

First, it must be recognized that the Jazz have proven to have one of the better front offices in the NBA behind Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey and General Manager Justin Zanik.

The two are responsible for building the Jazz current roster which owned the best record in the NBA this season and earned home-court advantage throughout the postseason.

Additionally, neither member of the Jazz brain trust are in the twilight of their careers. Lindsey, 52, and Zanik, 46, should have significantly more shelf life in the NBA than Ainge who turned 62 in March.

With that in mind, a role as either VP of Basketball Operations or General Manager is likely out of the picture, barring unforeseen circumstances.

But, the Jazz do have unfilled front office positions.

Last season Vice President of Player Personnel Walt Perrin left the Jazz to take an assistant general manager position with the New York Knicks. Perrin oversaw the Jazz scouting and pre-draft efforts, a role the team has yet to officially fill during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scouting and draft process is notoriously rigorous, and may not interest Ainge at this point in his career, but his long history in the league, wide-reaching network, and history of draft experience could help the Jazz should they choose to fill Perrin’s role by committee.

If a role in the team’s scouting department is of little interest, Ainge could also serve as a senior advisor for the Jazz, a common role in the NBA albeit with wide-ranging responsibilities from team to team.

Senior advisory roles can vary from helping with day-to-day operations of the team to player and community relations.

Ultimately, if Ainge were to join the Jazz it would have to come as the result of the team’s front office and ownership deciding they wanted additional help, and Ainge deciding he isn’t ready to settle into retirement.

But, with his long history in the NBA and success in the front office with the Celtics, it’s fair to assume Ainge could be a beneficial addition to the Jazz front office, even in a minor role.

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