Stevens replacing Ainge as team president in Celtics shakeup

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The Boston Celtics shook up their front office on Wednesday, a day after they were eliminated from the playoffs, with president of basketball operations Danny Ainge retiring and coach Brad Stevens moving up to the front office to replace him.

The moves game about 12 hours after the 17-time NBA champions lost to the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. The Celtics, who reached the conference finals in three of the previous four seasons, had flirted with a top seed in the East for much of the season before stumbling into the play-in round.

Celtics staff were informed Wednesday morning of the moves, which were first reported by ESPN and The Athletic.

Ainge has spent the bulk of his NBA career with the Celtics, serving as the team’s president since 2003 and being part of the 1984 and 1986 NBA championship teams in Boston as a player. He was voted the league’s top executive in 2008, the year in which Boston won its 17th and most recent NBA championship.

Stevens spent eight years as Boston’s coach, taking the Celtics to the playoffs the last seven seasons. He is the fourth-winningest coach in team history, behind Red Auerbach, Tom Heinsohn and Doc Rivers.

Stevens did not allude to the looming moves in his final news conference following the loss in Brooklyn, though he pointed to Boston’s future.

“We didn’t play perfect basketball, but we showed a lot of growth in the past few weeks, both individually and at times collectively,” Stevens said. “And so, there’s stuff to build off of. But at the same time, the task is tall and if you want to be in the mix, then you’ve got to be better than we were.”

The Celtics struggled with injuries this season, needed to win a play-in game just to get into the playoffs and fell well short of the expectation of contending for a championship — especially after reaching the East finals in the NBA bubble last season and losing to Miami.

“You can improve through continued development and the right work ethic and doing a good job with the developmental stuff,” Stevens said. “Then, obviously, there is the ability to acquire people. This team that beat us is a very good team. There are very good teams across the East and we have to get better. We never got a true look at this team this year, but I think we have enough information that shows that we need to get better.”

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More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

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