Jazz Excited To Welcome Experienced Ainge

Dec 15, 2021, 7:24 PM
Danny Ainge and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)...
Danny Ainge and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – From Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith to general manager Justin Zanik, to head coach Quin Snyder, one thing was clear on day one for Danny Ainge, the organization is excited to add his experience.

On Wednesday, the team announced that Ainge had been hired as the Jazz’s CEO, leaving many to wonder how the addition of the longtime Boston Celtics president of Basketball Operations would fit in the mix between Smith and Zanik.

During Ainge’s brief meeting with the media and a less formal conversation with Zanik on Wednesday night, the team’s brain trust elaborated on how they see the marriage working.

“I’m not going to be the guy that’s running the day-to-day,” Ainge said. “That’s going to be Justin, so we’ll have an opportunity to communicate with him and share with him experiences that I’ve had.”

After all, Ainge has a lot of experience to share after spending 40 years in the NBA.

The newest Jazz front office member was selected by the Celtics with the 31st pick of the 1981 NBA Draft out of BYU, was named an All-Star in 1988, and won two titles alongside Larry Bird before moving into coaching with the Phoenix Suns, and ultimately an executive position with Boston in 2003.

“He’s succeeded as a player and as a coach, as well as an executive for 18 years,” Smith said of Ainge. “He brings three championships to this organization and has a unique role. It’s an unprecedented role that hasn’t existed for us.”

While Ainge has adopted the CEO title, he won’t have the same daily responsibilities he had when overseeing the Celtics, including their title run in 2008.

“I have a really good feel and understanding of the NBA today and who those players are,” Ainge said of his role, “and I can be a sounding board for [Zanik], and for any player eventually. I think this is going to take some time to develop as we develop the relationships in the organization.”

Though Ainge downplayed how quickly he could help the team, Zanik seemed more enthusiastic about the immediate returns.

“Anytime you can aggregate the ‘Yes, this was good,’ or ‘No, that was a bad thing,’ or ‘Hey, we got unlucky here,’ it gives you more perspective and experience to learn from,” Zanik said. “So I’m excited about it.”

As for who makes the major decisions on how to build the roster, and which moves need to be made to fulfill the franchise’s championship dream, Ainge brings an experienced voice, but won’t have the final say.

The only person who has the final say is Smith as the Jazz owner, and that remains unchanged even with Ainge in tow.

“Ultimately, Ryan as the owner makes the final call,” Zanik said. “So if we’re all recommending [something] in basketball operations including coach — ‘Hey, I think we should do “A” or not do “A,”‘ he’s the one that’s going say yes or no. And that’s the way it’s always been.”

  • Utah Jazz Scoreboard

  • Utah Jazz Team Leaders

  • Utah Jazz Standings

Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz guard Kris Dunn (11) high fives a teammate during an NBA game...
Ben Anderson

Markkanen, Dunn Share New Outlook On Careers In Utah

Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn have found new perspectives and success in their careers as members of the Utah Jazz.
2 days ago
Utah Jazz guard Ochai Agbaji (30) reacts during an NBA game against the Sacramento Kings...
Ben Anderson

Agbaji Career-High Lifts Jazz Over Kings

Ochai Agbaji scored a career-high 27 points as the Utah Jazz outlasted the Sacramento Kings 128-120 at home.
3 days ago
Utah Jazz center Kelly Olynyk...
Ben Anderson

Agbaji, Olynyk Carry Jazz Past Kings

The Utah Jazz blew a 25 point first half lead, but still held on to beat the Sacramento Kings 128-120 at home.
3 days ago
Utah Jazz center Udoka Azbuike dunks (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)...
Brian Preece

Udoka Azubuike Having Big Night, Utah Jazz Fighting Sacramento Late

Utah Jazz center Udoka Azubuike is taking advantage of his opportunity, scoring a career-high 13 points as the Jazz battled Sacramento.
3 days ago
Rudy Gay #22 of the Utah Jazz reacts to a call while taking on the Dallas Mavericks...
Brian Preece

Rudy Gay Turns Back The Clock With Dunk As Jazz Hang On Against Kings

36-year-old Rudy Gay looked ten years younger as he drove past the Sacramento Kings defense for a third-quarter dunk.
3 days ago
Brian Preece

Utah Jazz Guard Kris Dunn Throws Down Dunk Against Sacramento

The Jazz took advantage of Sacramento's porous defense all half long, with Kris Dunn benefitting with a second-quarter slam.
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.
KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.
Football soccer ball on grass field on stadium...
KSL Digital Sales

Everything You Need to Know to Watch the 2022 World Cup

Find out where and when to watch the upcoming games and final match for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, including where to find live updates.
ksl sports logos...
KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Jimmy Buffett

Get your Hawaiian shirts ready.
Iron Maiden tour...
KSL Sports

Win Tickets Wednesday: Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden returns to Utah in 2022 with The Legacy of the Beast tour.
Jazz Excited To Welcome Experienced Ainge