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Brad Stevens Says Danny Ainge Was Not Pushed Out Of Role With Celtics

BOSTON (CBS) -- Danny Ainge has returned to the NBA, with the former Celtics president of basketball operations hired by the Utah Jazz to be the franchise's CEO and alternate governor.

Ainge has been rumored to be looking for a new gig since he stepped down from his job in Boston back in June following a disappointing 2020-21 season from the Celtics. It ended an 18-year run as the man in charge of Boston basketball, and most expected Ainge to be back in the game sooner rather than later.

You can include the man who took his job -- former Celtics head coach and current president of basketball ops. Brad Stevens -- in that mix. During his Thursday morning chat with 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher & Rich, Stevens said that he had heard in recent weeks that his former Celtics boss was getting "antsy."

"I anticipated him being in a role, but I didn't know what they were going to call it. That's great news," Stevens said of Ainge finding a new home. "Any time I talked to him the last few weeks he was watching college or pro or G League games. He stayed in touch with it since the season started and I'm not surprised he took a role, and it sounds like the role he was looking for."

When Ainge stepped down in Boston, he cited wanting to spend more time with his family. But him taking a new gig so soon after leaving the Celtics has some in Boston wondering if Ainge was forced out by Celtics ownership. Stevens said that is simply not true.

"If that is at the top of google then it must be true," Stevens joked. "I was here for the entire sequence of events and he let everyone know that he was stepping away and wanted to step away to have a chance to spend more time with his family -- to rejuvenate for what was next in life -- two months before it was announced. People can write what they want, but that is not true.

"When he left, I got the impression – this is a stressful and hard job. That and coaching, it can wear on you," Stevens continued. "So to take care of yourselves and make sure you know when you need to recharge and rejuvenate is important. He went into it with open eyes and probably thought that if he wants to do it again, he can do it again. ... The narrative that he was forced out is absolutely not true."

Stevens added that Ainge should still have plenty of time for his grandkids -- and his golf game -- in his new role with the Jazz.

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