Is Ainge bothered by Jazz's hot start? Ex-C's GM gives candid answer originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
This is not what Danny Ainge anticipated when he began his rebuild of the Utah Jazz.
The former Boston Celtics president, who took over as Jazz CEO last year, changed the course of the franchise by trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Moving on from the star tandem signaled the organization was prepared to "tank" its way to a lottery pick in next year's NBA Draft.
Instead, the Jazz have been one of the hottest teams in basketball so far in the 2022-23 season. Utah enters Saturday with a 10-3 record and a first-place spot in the Western Conference standings.
Winning certainly was not part of Ainge's original plan, but he isn't complaining. He says he's "pleasantly surprised" with the team's early success, and he has a message for those who suggest he might be bothered by it.
“I mean, come on,” Ainge told Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix. “Who would say that? And who would I ever have told that to? Just think about that for a second. ...
"It’s assumed that’s how I feel? Give me a break. I’ve been accused of [building teams to lose] before. It’s never been true.”
Sounds like those "Angry Ainge" memes can be put to rest.
Utah's run might be short-lived, but Ainge is enjoying it while it lasts. In fact, he isn't ruling out the idea of the club being a buyer at the NBA trade deadline.
"I wouldn't discount anything," he said. "We have a lot of opportunities to make deals with all the picks that we have."
As a result of the Gobert/Mitchell deals, the Jazz now own a total of 13 unprotected or lightly-protected draft picks through 2029. It didn't take long for Utah to get the full "Trader Danny" experience.