That’s increasingly certain as a series of factors have lined up against his return.
In recent days, both Jackie MacMullan and Chris Mannix have intimated at the problems between Allen and Rajon Rondo this past season.
It’s easy to pin this on Rondo. His inclinations to prickliness and brooding have been well reported. And since arriving in Boston Allen has been portrayed as the least demonstrative member of the Big Three and the one who sacrificed the biggest part of his game to fit into Doc Rivers’ system. He’s relentlessly, exhaustively been described as professional.
These descriptions are accurate but they tell only part of the story with Allen, who doesn’t fit quite so neatly into that box.
There is Allen, who needs to complete a specific checklist of chores before tipoff. And then there is Garnett, a brooding pregame figure who requires an intense period of introspection to prepare himself.
It was inevitable that their approaches would collide. In early December, Garnett was at his locker, alone, silently visualizing his responsibilities for the game. Allen, who had long ago completed his pregame tasks, was joking with Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo. The noise interrupted Garnett’s concentration. He barked his objections; his veteran teammate barked back.
“They got into it with each other,” reports Rondo. “Me and Perk were sitting there going, ‘Whoa, what’s this about?’ “
Pierce observed the verbal skirmish with amusement.
“Stuff like that happens on teams all the time,” Pierce insists. “Different personalities. But Ray’s to blame. He’s crazy. One night he gets on the plane and says, ‘Paul, you’re in the wrong seat.’ I told him, ‘Man, there’s a hundred seats open. Leave me alone.’ “
Imagine five years of that kind of thing.
Of course, that’s not the only reason Allen is likely to depart or a problem that the C’s can’t overcome. After all, whatever issues existed between he and Rondo didn’t prevent a deep playoff run. And Allen dragged himself out on the court over these last two months to prevent things like “Sasha Pavlovic” and “25 minutes played” appearing a box score. That’s basically the definition of heroism.
Allen … disagreed with the decision to have Bradley supplant him in the starting lineup. His shot opportunities dropped markedly, and his soured relationship with Rondo was evident. Allen was also stung by Boston’s attempt to deal him to Memphis for O.J. Mayo.
There will be no hometown discount taken by the NBA’s all-time 3-point king. All indications are the time has come for Allen and the Celtics to part ways.
Allen will have no shortage of off-season suitors amongst championship hopefuls, some of whom may offer him a starting spot. Unless the Celtics move Avery Bradley, there’s no similar offer coming in Boston. Bradley will start at the SG spot next year and Allen would have to be comfortable coming off the bench to return.
So, to return to Boston, Allen might have to take less money for a smaller role in the offense.
And that’s if the Celtics even want him back.
The real problems with Allen returning to Boston are that:
1) His defense has become a major liability. Even before his ankles spurred up on him, he couldn’t stay in front of younger SGs around the league. Even back in January and February, when Allen was snapping crazy twine with his jumper, the Celtics were suffering huge breakdowns in the perimeter defense. Much of this was on Allen.
2) He can’t create his own shot. His ability to shoot and curl and flare and spot-up are terrific weapons. But they’re insufficient for a team that needs to revamp its offense and drag it out of the bottom quarter of the league. And Allen just doesn’t put enough pressure on the defense in enough different ways.
3) The chances of him breaking down only increase as he gets older. His ankles were problems his last year in Seattle and again this year. The Celtics have had their fill of key players struggling through playoff games because of injuries the last few years. Re-signing Allen creates an unnecessary vulnerability in the rotation.
Brian disagrees with me on this but I think it’s time for Boston to let Allen go. While Ray is undeniably a great Celtic and while we’ve all got our personal favorites amongst his crunchtime jumpers, I think it’s best if we’ve seen the last of him in green.