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Allen was deserving of more

By Gary Washburn
April 19, 2012
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Doc Rivers had no issue acknowledging that the Celtics had a deal consummated to send Ray Allen to the Memphis Grizzlies for O.J. Mayo and a draft pick. He dismissed any hoopla that generated from the potential breakup of the Big Three and departure of one of Celtics’ most popular players.

Rivers said a conversation with Allen was not necessary afterward, no reason to pull the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer aside and tell him why he was nearly sent to Memphis. Allen is a consummate professional and understands the business. He’s been traded twice in his career, after all.

Allen is savvy in never displaying his true emotions, always even keel with the media, very composed on and off the court. Yet, that does not mean he lacks emotion. It’s been a disappointing season for Allen, because privately, he feels somewhat slighted by an organization for which he developed a loyalty and trust - and his demeanor has changed over the past few weeks.

In addition to being nearly traded, Allen was relegated to the bench by the emergence of Avery Bradley, a move that has made the Celtics more athletic and more effective defensively. Bradley’s offensive development has been one of the more surprising storylines of the NBA season.

It appears that Allen would appreciate better communication from team management. Yahoo! Sports reported that Rivers called Allen just hours before the March 15 trade deadline and informed him of the trade to Memphis and then called back 20 minutes later to tell him the deal had been foiled.

“No, I didn’t. It was more Danny [Ainge] calling, but [Allen] knew about it,’’ Rivers said. “I don’t see it as a big deal. I’m serious. I don’t get the big deal of it. It was a scary moment for all of us. If you lose Ray that’s a scary moment, he’s pretty good. Really, I’m serious. I wouldn’t want to see Ray, Paul [Pierce], or Kevin [Garnett] ever moved. That’s just how you are. Even if we got the best deal in the world, you’re still losing guys you have an attachment with - that would be scary for me, or any of us.’’

When asked what he told Allen in the days following the trade deadline, Rivers said: “Nothing much at all, really. The guys are great. I mean really that’s the point. Afterwards we were all good and just moved forward. That’s what I love about this team.’’

While the Celtics are a resilient bunch and they showed that with Wednesday’s 102-98 victory over the Orlando Magic that clinched the Atlantic Division for the fifth straight season, the potential dissolving of the Big Three is an issue that should be taken seriously.

Allen has turned himself into one of the game’s great shooters and he understands his value to the Celtics, and would like the Celtics to comprehend that same value. It’s not that Allen believes he is untradeable or unmovable for the right deal, but any trade is a blow to the ego.

When Allen was dealt to the Celtics in the summer of 2007, getting an opportunity to recharge his career and play for a championship-contending team for the first time, he lamented the breaking up of the SuperSonics for a youth movement that included Kevin Durant. He was disappointed that Seattle general manager Sam Presti never allowed him to play with and influence Durant, although those sentiments were softened when the Celtics won their 17th championship.

While the Celtics’ desire to get younger, get value for Allen’s expiring contract, and also nab a draft pick in one of the deeper drafts in recent memory all makes conventional sense, a conversation with Allen to relay those reasons and reemphasize his value would have been prudent.

And while Allen understood the decision to send him to the bench for the first time in his career, he made it clear that he approached Rivers about that change because the murmurs were becoming too loud and too distracting. If Rivers was going to make the change, he might as well do it now.

That’s not exactly Allen suggesting that Bradley replace him as has been characterized. It seems while the Celtics have undergone a resurgence - primarily because trades for Allen and Pierce never materialized - there has been a breakdown in communication and perhaps regard between management and those veteran players.

The wedge may be too late to close. Allen wants to finish this season with a championship, but the likelihood of his return next season has diminished.

Perhaps those are the prickly issues that arise when eras conclude, but this one should have been massaged and managed better to make the road to the next Celtics’ phase smoother.

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