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Ainge gets ‘unique opportunity’ with Jazz as CEO

The Utah Jazz hired Danny Ainge to oversee basketball operations, naming him alternate governor and CEO of Jazz Basketball on Wednesday.

Ainge will work closely with Jazz general manager Justin Zanik, who runs the teams’ day-to-day operations.

Ainge stepped down as the Boston Celtics‘ president of basketball operations in June and now returns to the NBA with his longtime friend, new Jazz owner Ryan Smith. Ainge is a popular figure in Salt Lake City, near Brigham Young University, where he was a college basketball All-American.

“We have big aspirations for Smith Entertainment Group and the Utah Jazz. Danny is one of the best basketball minds in the world and he’s also passionate about this state and our community,” Smith said in a statement. “We believe in adding the best talent to all facets of our organization and are lucky to have Danny’s acumen and experience.”

Ainge spent 18 years as the Celtics’ top basketball executive, winning the 2008 NBA title and reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017, 2018 and 2020. Ainge was the NBA’s executive of the year in 2008.

“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,” Ainge said in the statement. “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 replaces Dennis Lindsey, who moved into a consultant’s role this summer after building the franchise into a Western Conference championship contender. Lindsey drafted All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and hired coach Quin Snyder.

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