Utah Jazz hire Danny Ainge to oversee basketball operations

In an unsurprising move, the Utah Jazz have hired longtime NBA executive Danny Ainge to oversee basketball operations, a person familiar with the move told USA TODAY Sports.

Ainge's official title is CEO of Utah Jazz Basketball.

“I have known and respected (Jazz owner) Ryan and Ashley Smith for many years," Ainge said in a statement. "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 stepped down in June as the Boston Celtics' president of basketball operations, telling reporters then, “I don’t know what my future holds. I don’t have any plans … I’ll think about the future somewhere in the future.”

Danny Ainge, shown in 2016.
Danny Ainge, shown in 2016.

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But it was expected Ainge would return to an NBA team eventually, and given his connection to Utah – he starred in baseball and basketball at Brigham Young and has family members in the state – it was projected Ainge would join the Jazz in some capacity.

Justin Zanik will remain Utah’s general manager, working with Ainge.

“Joining the Jazz was a natural and perfect fit for me, as my roots in Utah are deep and strong," Ainge said. "This is a team that has a tremendous foundation of players and people, and Justin and (Coach) Quin (Snyder) 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 spent 18 seasons with the Celtics and won a championship in 2008.

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

The Jazz are in great hands with the incredible leadership of General Manager Justin Zanik and Head Coach Quin Snyder. We couldn’t be more excited to bring Danny on board to work alongside Justin, Quin and me. Danny will help make our organization stronger in pursuit of our collective goal – winning an NBA title."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Utah Jazz hire Danny Ainge to oversee basketball operations