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BOSTON (CBS) – Since his departure to Miami, things have been a little strained between Ray Allen and the Boston Celtics.
Allen has let it all out now that he’s down south, airing out that he didn’t think the Celtics treated him properly on the court or at the negotiating tables, and saying his issues with Rajon Rondo were on Rondo.
Allen was a professional during his five seasons with the Celtics, so his “attitude” towards his former team is catching some fans off guard. But not his former head coach.
“I don’t know if I’m surprised or disappointed, your choice,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz on Friday. “Ray was great here. He made the choice to leave, and that’s where he should leave it and we should leave.”
To make things even more complicated, the Celtics open the NBA season against Allen and the Miami Heat Tuesday night. But the focus will not be on just one individual player for the Celtics.
“When we play them on Tuesday, we’re not going to be trying to stop Ray. We are – but we have to focus on LeBron and Wade. If our guys think like that we’re not going to win,” said Rivers.
Does Rivers think Allen made the wrong choice to take less money from Miami? He sure does.
“I think sometimes he feels that way himself,” Rivers said of Allen. “At the end of the day I want him to do well, just not against us.”
Rivers said he felt his relationship with Allen was good, but his decision to start second-year guard Avery Bradley over Allen during last season was the beginning of the end.
“You worry about a guy’s feelings, but you worry more about the team. If anything, Ray probably didn’t like that,” he said of his decision to start Bradley. “I’ll always look at myself first with Ray; he wanted to ball more and things like that. I tell my guys every year, if you’re here for me to run stuff for you to look good, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re here for me to run stuff to make the team look good, you’re in the right place.”
Given all that has gone down, from Allen’s departure to airing all his grievances, Rivers still says he wouldn’t change anything he did last year.
“I absolutely would have started Bradley,” Doc said adamantly. “I actually had it on paper with my coaches before the seasons started last year that if we could get a starter at the two, Ray would be terrific coming off the bench.”
“It’s interesting. Now that’s what he’s doing down in Miami,” Rivers said.
Rivers said he was in touch with Allen after the season ended, and tried to contact him when the free agency period began. But when Allen never returned his calls, he saw the writing on the walls.
“I tried to call him. After the year we talked fine. Then when free agency started Ray didn’t return Danny’s calls or my calls, so I stopped trying,” said Rivers. “If you’ve been here for five years and I have to call you every 10 seconds in free agency, you probably don’t want to be here.”
“Ray was great for us, and I won’t go away from that,” Rivers added. “Why it ended the way it ended, I really don’t know. I think it was ego than anything else. I do think it’s easier for players to go somewhere else and play a backup role than the place they were a star at.”
“The other stuff, the bad relationships and all of that, I didn’t think that existed,” said Doc. “Rondo and Ray had their days, but so did anybody. That’s part of being a family and a team. I never thought it was to a point during the season Ray would leave.”