We haven’t heard much from Danny Ainge since his decision to step down as Celtics’ president of basketball operations back in June (a position now held by former coach Brad Stevens). While Ainge’s departure from the Celtics was announced as his “retirement,” the sense around the league is that he’d be open to accepting another front-office role if the right offer came along.
Following an investigation into allegations of bullying and other workplace misconduct, the Trail Blazers fired longtime general manager Neil Olshey on Friday, creating a high-profile vacancy in Portland. Joe Cronin was promoted to interim GM in place of Olshey, though he’s just a Band-Aid, a mere placeholder tasked with keeping the seat warm for whoever the Blazers end up hiring. As potential candidates began to gain traction on Twitter Friday (Scott Perry and Marc Eversley among them), Ainge was the name that seemed to be on everyone’s lips.
Ainge’s level of interest in the Trail Blazers—or any job in basketball for that matter—remains to be seen. But if the 62-year-old were to resurface with another team, Portland would arguably make the most sense given his ties to the area (he was born and raised in Eugene) and the two seasons he spent there as a player, making 198 appearances (playoffs included) for the Blazers from 1990-92.
For now, it’s all just speculation. The Blazers are undoubtedly a fixer-upper—they’ve struggled under rookie coach Chauncey Billups (11-12) and megastar Damian Lillard, frustrated by years of playoff disappointment, may feel he’s outgrown Portland and is ready for a new challenge elsewhere. But if he’s willing and able—remember Ainge has had multiple heart attacks with one coming as recently as 2019—the former Celtics exec should be at the very top of Portland’s wish list.