By Gary Washburn
MIAMI – In a break between one of this infamous summer workouts or as he celebrated his second NBA championship by cheating on his diet with a glass of cranberry juice, Ray Allen marveled at the developments in Boston over a five-day period.
On a June Sunday, Doc Rivers was released from his Celtics contract and agreed to join the Los Angeles Clippers as their new head coach. Boston received a first-round pick in return. And five days later, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were also former Celtics as they were sent to Brooklyn in blockbuster deal that was consummated when Garnett agreed to waive his no-trade clause.
A year prior, Allen rejected a two-year, $12 million contract with a no-trade clause from Boston to accept a two-year, $6 million deal with the Miami Heat and was vilified in the process by fans and his former teammates. Allen, now in his second season with the Heat after helping Miami win a second consecutive last June, still smarts over what he perceives as a double standard in treatment for essentially the same decision.
Before the Celtics’ 111-110 win over the Heat, Allen expressed disappointment that Garnett or Pierce have yet to carry a conversation with him since his Boston departure, especially since he believes Garnett waiving his no-trade clause at Pierce’s encouragement was essentially a sign that both wanted out of Boston for a better situation. And Allen said his signing to join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade for a title run was his best option for finishing his career with a championship.
So he wonders why isn’t Pierce or Garnett feeling the same wrath for departing Boston while he was soundly booed in his return to TD Garden last season. This remains a sensitive subject for Allen.
“No, they haven’t spoken to me,” Allen said of Pierce and Garnett. “Look, I have a feeling they were in the same predicament I was in this summer or somewhat the same predicament. Even Doc, he had to make the decision that was best for himself and that’s what he did and I’m happy that they can be put into a situation where they could be successful.
“When you get traded, there’s no telling where you could end up or what could happen. And they’re in a situation where they can still contend and for that I’m happy for them. Kevin had to come to that realization where he had to make that decision (to waive his no-trade clause) so for them to be so upset with me is disappointing because regardless of how everything happened, we’re still, because that banner in 2008 is still going to be there and we’re still always going to be tied to it.”
Allen’s final year in Boston was injury plagued and troubled and he was eventually brought off the bench in favor of Avery Bradley until Bradley got hurt. Needing surgery on both ankles, Allen played through the playoffs but got the distinct feeling the organization didn’t want him back while team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge did not make his re-signing a priority.
Allen felt the Celtics could have re-signed him during the season but only got serious when the Heat showed interest when free agency began. So after being buoyed by owner Mickey Arison and president Pat Riley, he took half the money for South Beach.
Pierce and Garnett expressed disbelief in Allen’s decision. Garnett did not try to recruit Allen to stay in Boston while Pierce only communicated through text messages.
“I did think that (I was unfairly treated) but I was curious to see how (the Brooklyn trade and Rivers leaving) was received not long by the people in the NBA but by the people in Boston,” Allen said. “In my opinion it was the same scenario. I wasn’t upset with any one of those guys because it was their right. We all have those rights when we get put into those situations you have to make the choice that you feel are best for your situation.
“That’s why when I did it, I was disappointed that I was criticized because those guys knows what it takes when you have to make a decision for your families. But I understood. It wasn’t like I didn’t understand. You gotta do what you gotta do. When guys sign contracts for more money, less money, you move to another team, you had to make the decision that you thought was best for yourself.”
Allen badly wants to be embraced by Celtics fans when he career ends because of his contributions there. And of course he wants to be embraced by Pierce and Garnett, but that may not happen for several years. The Celtics overhaul made the Big Three Era past history, so Allen said he doesn’t feel the deep emotional bond to the current Celtics as he did last season but he does feel a bond.
“I’ll always be connected, always. That doesn’t change. Emotionally, present day, present moment, but the things that went on over the last five years, a lot of great stuff and it’s always going to be close to my heart,” he said. “Doc talked to me like I was still on his team. I got heavily criticized by each one of them the minute I left. They were disappointed, they were upset, but we (all) decided what we had to decide we ended up putting ourselves in a situation of winning another championship. The writing was on the wall for us. (The Celtics) told us we’re moving in a different direction. That’s what each one of them dealt with and again each one of us had to make that choice that’s going to put us after Celtics basketball. Where can we go to be successful and play good basketball.”