When you've had the kind of run the past five years that the Celtics have had, sooner or later other teams will come trying to court your best front-office talent.
Celtics assistant General Manager Ryan McDonough was in the running for the Orlando Magic GM job that ultimately went to Worcester native Rob Hennigan.
Now comes Philadelphia. The 76ers have interest in Mike Zarren, a Celtics assistant GM who also doubles as Team Counsel.
Ainge confirmed to CSNNE.com that the Sixers did ask for permission to speak with Zarren about the Sixers GM job.
While Ainge wasn't sure where things stood with Zarren and the Philadelphia GM job currently held by Rod Thorn, he's not surprised that his top assistants are garnering interest from other franchises.
"Ryan McDonough and Mike Zarren are both good candidates," Ainge said. "I knew both of those guys would get an opportunity someday, for sure."
While both have been important cogs in the Celtics maintaining a spot among the Eastern Conference's top teams, a potential loss of Zarren would be significant on several levels.
An attorney who graduated from the Harvard Law School, Zarren is the Celtics' resident salary cap whiz whose use of analytics has in many ways revolutionized the way the C's -- and a number of other teams for that matter -- go about scouting players and deciding on which free agents to pursue.
He is a regular speaker at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference held in Boston during the spring.
David Falk is one of the most respected agents in the NBA, with a past clients list that's filled with some of the greatest players to ever set foot in the NBA.
Among his current clients is Jeff Green, whose four-year, 36 million contract with the Celtics became official on Wednesday.
Falk said he doesn't usually work with the assistant GMs for teams, but because of the complicated nature of Green's contract along with all the difference nuances of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, he spent a good bit of time working out details for Green's new deal with Zarren.
"Mike has an interesting combination of skills," Falk told CSNNE.com. "Moneyball skills, with his use of data and analytics."
Those qualities have been instrumental in the Celtics putting together a team for this upcoming season that has to be on the short list of contenders in the East, along with NBA champion Miami Heat.
Falk has no doubts that Zarren would be "an excellent GM one day."
However, his success would depend heavily on the role that he would be allowed to play.
"In Boston, he has a lot of influence on what the Celtics do," Falk said. "I have dealt with GMs who are basically GMs in title only. This isn't just Mike, but for any assistant GM with an opportunity to make such a move who has considerable influence in their role as an assistant GM, will they have similar or more influence at another place as a GM?"
Falk added, "As I said, Mike is an excellent candidate for any GM job. He has the smarts; he's an attorney which certainly helps. And he has good people skills."