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BOSTON (CBS) – When it comes to Ray Allen leaving Boston for Miami, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers is taking all the blame.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Rivers said it was him handing over the offensive keys to Rajon Rondo, as well as sending Allen to the bench upon his return from injury last season, that sullied the relationship with Allen.
While Rivers admits there was certainly some issues between Allen and Rondo, he was the one that gave Rondo offensive freedom with the ball, which was one of the main reasons Allen skipped town.
“People can use all the Rondo stuff – and it was there, no doubt about that – but it was me more than Rondo,” Rivers told Wojnarowski. “I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.”
“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.”
Rivers admitted that he had to alleviate the tiff between Rondo and Allen for most of the five years the two played together.
The 36-year-old Allen also did not like be relegated to the bench after returning from an ankle injury late in the season, with second-year guard Avery Bradley getting the nod as a starter.
“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,” said Rivers. “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.’ ”
While Rivers admits to being “pissed” at Allen immediately after his departure, he’s cooled off and realized the future Hall-of-Famer did what was best for himself.
“For a week or two, I was really disappointed, pissed, because I thought it was for all the wrong reasons,” said Rivers. “It was more about himself, his team. And then, I realized: Well, it should be about himself. It was free agency. I wasn’t thinking right.