WINTER PARK, Fla. — Doc Rivers was tanned and refreshed after a few weeks of golf following the NBA season. His bright smile could not hide his disappointment in losing Ray Allen to the Miami Heat. Rivers was candid Saturday evening when talking about losing one of the Big Three to an arch rival.
“I’m just disappointed; he should have stayed,” Rivers said before the Celtics’ summer league entry began practice at Rollins College. “We recruited him just as hard (as Miami). We talked (after he agreed with the Heat). It was a good talk. You know how I am, when a guy makes his mind up, I am not going to try to change it. I respect him for all he did for us, but I thought he should have stayed with us.”
Allen accepted what is being reported as a two-year deal at about $3 million per season to play with the Heat. The Celtics offered twice as much money, but Allen relayed to Rivers the issues he had this past season, and that made the difference.
“No I didn’t (have confidence Allen was going to stay), I didn’t know one way or the other,” Rivers said. “I just knew financially we were in a better position. But he had his reasons for leaving and I’m sure he’ll express those with you guys.”
When asked if agreed with Allen’s reasons for signing with Miami and leaving the Celtics, Rivers said: “No. But that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what i think. I just wish we could have found a way (to keep him) and we didn’t. I’ll always put (the blame) on us, that’s easier.”
Rivers hinted that perhaps the Celtics’ courting of Kevin Garnett to return may have irritated Allen, who may not have felt like a priority.
“I thought we did that,” Rivers said. “Danny (Ainge) in particular did exactly what he should have done. Kevin Garnett was our focal point and he should have been. If that got anyone ruffled then that’s probably too bad. We did everything that we’re supposed to do.
“He had his reasons. I think emotionally he probably got bent sideways a little bit by us courting Kevin for some reason. I don’t know honestly. Listen, he was great for us when he was here and that’s all we can say for it. Clearly we would have liked him to stay with us. But I respect Ray and that will never go away.”
The Big Three was together for five years, and Allen’s departure breaks up one of the more memorable eras in Celtics history.
“Listen, it was going to happen eventually,” Rivers said. “Ray expedited it. It was going to happen at some point. So (it was going to happen) sooner or later and it did. It doesn’t change what we’re gonna try to do next year at all. The show goes on. We’re going to be right back where want to be next year and we’ll be ready.”