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It’s hard to stomach the fact he turned down more money to stick with the Celtics, but breaking it all down, it’s not surprising. Weighing in all the other factors that led to his departure, it’s hard to believe it didn’t happen sooner. It leads one to wonder if Ray was ever “torn” with the decision, and if the Celtics ever even wanted him back.
In the end, Allen made a business decision – the one that was best for him. It’s hard to fault him for that.
Yes, the Celtics sent a two-year, $12 million deal his way. It was a very respectable offer, seeing how he could only get half of that from Miami. But it was clear Boston wanted to move on with Avery Bradley as the shooting guard of the future. They wanted a dependable shooter off the bench, and Ray could have filled that void. But the addition of Jason Terry, while a smart addition for boosting the team’s depth, showed that they did not view Allen as that man – not by himself at least.
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Although all of it stayed out of the public eye, as a true professional would make sure it did, there was plenty for Allen to be upset about over the past few years. He was upset after getting traded at the deadline last season, only to have it fall apart moments later. He was upset about losing his job to Bradley, and most of all, he was upset at Rajon Rondo.
It’s hard to blame Allen for any of that. It can’t be a good feeling to have your boss come in, tell you to pack your bags, and just a few moments later have him come back and say “never mind, we still want you.” It’s also hard to be one of the game’s best shooters, to know your game is on the decline, but still have to watch a 21-year-old with a spotty (at best) shot take your spot. And if issues with Rondo were already causing him some indigestion, it all hit the fan like the Monday morning after a weekend barbecue last season. No amount of tums, or money, could cure that.
However talented Rajon Rondo is, he can be equally as frustrating. If Allen already felt a little bit out of the “Big 3” loop when he first joined Boston, that would have just increased as Rondo’s emergence forced it into the “Big 4” or in some people’s eyes, a “newer Big 3” sans Ray. But if that is the only factor that led to Allen leaving his family from the last five years, that’s a shame. Even the greatest teams have players that don’t necessarily get along off the court. It’s the great ones who overcome their differences, put them aside, and head out to battle each and every night.
But apparently it just got to be too much for Allen.
So now, Allen will be wearing that red uniform opening the floor up for LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. He has plenty of memories in green: from embarrassing Sasha Vujacic to clinch Game 2 of the 2008 NBA Finals, his 32 points with eight 3-pointers in Game 2 of the 2010 Finals, and breaking the All-Time 3-point record two seasons ago. But none of that will matter when he first steps on the floor as a member of the Heat.
Will he be viewed as a traitor in the eyes of Celtics fans? Absolutely. Will he hear the boo birds when the defending champs come to town? Without a doubt. But he’s put himself in the position he wanted to be in: a chance at another title or two.
It should be interesting to see what Allen brings to the defending-champion Heat. He’ll likely still be coming off the bench, but should get plenty of looks in the fourth quarter. He’ll help spread the floor for James and Wade, and shouldn’t have to run around on his aging legs nearly as much as he had to with the Celtics. But it certainly will be a lot different getting passes from Mario Chalmers than Rondo. And how will Allen handle that glare from either James or Wade when he misses a potential game-winner the first time?
As for the Celtics, it’s not the worst thing in the world losing Ray Allen. Allen was obviously losing a step, or two, as each year began, whether it be his shot not falling with consistency or his body starting to deteriorate. His passion was never in question, still showing up hours before games to put up hundreds of jumpers, 3′s and free throws, but once he was relegated to the bench, bitterness began creeping in. It never surfaced in public as the Celtics bounced back from a weak first half to make a title run, but ridding themselves of any potential problems before they blossom is the best route to go. If it comes down to Rondo or Allen, there is no question who the future of the team depends on.
Although having Avery Bradley undergoing a second shoulder surgery which could sideline him for the beginning of the season, the addition of Terry will give Boston the scorer off the bench they’ve needed the past three years. Danny Ainge will have to go out and add another guard, possibly Courtney Lee or the return of Mickael Pietrus, but overall the loss of Ray won’t hurt as bad thanks to Terry’s arrival. With no more Ray, Bradley will get his chance – full-time – to prove himself.
In the end, the professional Ray Allen made a professional decision. It won’t be well-received by those that were cheering him on, and now each time he touches the ball in the TD Garden will be greeted with loud jeers. But he will still be able to look up at the 2008 championship banner and know he was part of something special.
Something much more special than what he has now in Miami. But hey, that’s just the business of the game.