Celtics extend contracts of Ainge, Stevens

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WALTHAM, MASS. >> Establishing continuity has always been at the core of the Boston Celtics' 17 NBA championships.

The Celtics hope their latest moves in that regard will be a step toward reaching No. 18.

The team announced Wednesday that it has extended the contracts of coach Brad Stevens and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, keeping in place the architect of Boston's most recent title run and the coach brought in three years ago to anchor the latest rebuilding project.

Ainge was nearing the end of a multi-year pact, while Stevens had three years left on the original six-year, $22 million contract he signed in 2013.

Terms of the new pacts were not disclosed, but Celtics co-owner and managing partner Wyc Grousbeck said both were "no-brainers."

"There was great interest on both sides. They were easy conversations," Grousbeck said.

Ainge just completed his 13th season as the Celtics' basketball boss. The team is 565-484 in his tenure, with 10 playoff appearances, two trips to the NBA Finals and the 2008 NBA championship. Fellow NBA executives voted Ainge the executive of the year for the 2007-08 season.

He said his talks with ownership took about 15 minutes and that the new deal allows him to continue with an organization he's been most associated with during his professional career.

"This foundation that we have with the Celtics I think is very unique," Ainge said. "The fact that we have such great unity in management, ownership and coaching I think is unique, and I value that a great deal."

Stevens is coming off leading the Celtics to their second straight playoff appearance. Boston won just 25 games during his first season in 2013-14 and improved to 40 and 48 wins the past two seasons.

He said his talk with Ainge didn't last much longer than the one Ainge had with ownership.

"I love who I'm working with. I love who I'm working for," Stevens said.

Ainge said that he hopes locking up Stevens long-term will help quiet some of the speculation that often surrounds the former Butler University coach when a high-profile college job open up.

"We don't have to answer any more questions about Indiana and Butler. And Duke. And North Carolina," Ainge said. "I think it's important. I think it's important for our fans, and our players and everybody to know he's not looking for another opportunity; he's here with the Celtics. ...It's a commitment with all of us."

Stevens said while it's great to have that reinforced, he has never been looking for the next job.

"It's never really been a question for me," Stevens said. "This was thoroughly vetted out before making this move. One of the things that I really wanted to do was jump in with both feet. ...I really like where I am and I've been fortunate to be here.

That said, the timing of the moves is likely not a coincidence.

The Celtics enter their biggest offseason in recent memory holding eight draft picks — including the No. 3 pick overall — and lots of salary cap space to entice free agents.

It should make for a busy summer, but one which Ainge said he feels a lot better about thanks to the stability that's been created around him.

"I think it's very important for everyone to know that we're all together. We're in this for the long haul," Ainge said.


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