Y! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski caught up with Doc Rivers. The topic? Ray Allen’s departure. Rivers:
“Think about everything [Allen] said when he left, ‘I want to be more of a part of the offense.’ Everything was back at Rondo. And I look at that, and say, ‘That’s not Rondo’s fault.’ That’s what I wanted Rondo to do, and that’s what Rondo should’ve done. Because that’s Rondo’s ability. He’s the best passer in the league. He has the best feel in the league. He’s not a great shooter, so he needs the ball in his hands to be effective. And that bothered Ray.
“And not starting [games] bothered Ray. I did examine it, and the conclusion I came back to was this: By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a hypocrite. In the opening speech I make every year, I tell the team: ‘Every decision I make is going to be what’s good for the team, and it may not be what’s good for the individual.’ “
“But here’s what wasn’t going to change: The ball’s not going to be in Ray’s hands more, the ball’s going to be in Rondo’s hands. That’s not going to change. Now that you’ve voiced you should have the ball more, or you want to start, or you want more freedom in the offense, that’s not going to go away. It’s going to be the same stuff.”
There’s a clear theme running through Doc’s comments in this piece and it’s effectively this: Ray Allen was struggling to come to terms with his decline. Allen couldn’t accept that he was being de-emphasized in the offense and rotation in favor of Rondo and Avery Bradley, respectively.
So, even though Doc’s blaming himself, he’s really turning the finger back on Allen. Because by no measure were the Celtics more effective on the floor with Allen in the starting lineup versus Bradley and by no means could Allen create offense the way Rondo could. If Allen’s priority was Allen, instead of the good of the team, then he didn’t fit into Celtics culture anymore, particularly one headed by Rondo, a player he apparently disdained.
(And to be fair, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade can probably create more open shots for Allen with their drive-and-kick games than Rivers’ offense would have done. In turn, Allen’s ability to space the floor should open up even more options for Miami’s two megastars. There’s an argument that Allen fits better in Miami than Boston.).
This hardly puts a bow on the Allen years. We have several more stages of (alleged) grief to go through, including the Celtics going up against Allen on opening night in Miami, his return to the TD Garden in January, and potentially, some more direct discussion of the problems between he and Rondo, who has yet to go on record on the topic.