It wasn’t just one thing that caused Ray Allen, after five years with the Boston Celtics, to sign with the Miami Heat during free agency, probably the Celtics’ biggest rivals over the last two years. A combination of being fed up with his relationship with Rajon Rondo and the rotation decision made by his head coach, Doc Rivers, made it an easier decision to leave.
Allen spent five seasons with the Celtics, averaging 16.7 points during the regular season. He won the NBA title with the Celtics in 2008 and went again to the NBA finals in 2010, being of the big-three era that turned into a big-four for many with the rise of Rajon Rondo, which was also a big reason as to why Allen decided to leave Boston.
For five years, according to Doc Rivers, he had to try mediate issues between the two players, who developed a deep hatred for each other off the court of the TD Garden. When Rivers made it more and more clear that he wants the offense to go through Rondo and Rondo alone, giving the point guard complete responsibility and control over his offense, Allen took that as a slight.
When Ray Allen returned from his ankle injury late last season, he suddenly turned into a sixth man, with Avery Bradley taking over his starting position. He took that as another slight from his head coach, thinking he was tending towards Rondo even more. Seeing the team as it was by the time free agency started, Allen concluded that he doesn’t like the fact that he was demoted from one of the franchise’s saviors to a bench player. Seeing Rondo getting the spotlight as the team’s best player after a fantastic postseason, with Rivers pushing his point guard to take more shots didn’t help.
Rivers talked about how it’s all about him. All the decisions that led Allen to choose the Miami Heat over the Boston Celtics were about Rondo, but everything that went down with Rondo was because Rivers chose to move the ball away from Pierce and Allen into the hands of one of the best point guards in the NBA. For the good of the team, not for the personal benefit of anyone on the team. By trying what he thought was the best thing for the Celtics, Rivers says he knew he probably lost Ray Allen. When Allen took more and more time returning texts and calls after the season was over, Rivers felt that the 10 time NBA All-Star might opt for another team.
Ray’s got to do what’s best for Ray. But having said that, he’s not going to start in Miami. And I doubt he gets the ball more. But I do think, for a guy like Ray and Paul and Kevin and Kobe, it’s easier to go somewhere and do that than have it taken from you where you’re at.
The Celtics signed Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to fill in the shoes of Ray Allen at shooting guard. Both players have no problem coming off the bench. Jason Terry own an NBA title that way, and Rivers hopes his arrival will provide a spark to the aging team, now in the complete control of Rajon Rondo’s hands.
Ray Allen simply did what people are always surprised when NBA players decide to do – Do what’s best for himself as a player. Not necessarily financially, but in terms of playing time, respect from his head coach, teammates, and obviously a better chance of adding another title ring to his hand.