Top Stories of 2012, No. 7: Ray Allen leaves Celtics for South Beach
|12.27.12 at 6:42 pm ET|
Over the final week of 2012, WEEI.com will count down the top 10 stories of the year in Boston sports. This entry in the countdown is No. 7: Ray Allen’s departure from the Celtics.
Heat owner Micky Arison first published the news of Ray Allen’s departure from the Celtics on Twitter, signaling the official end of the Big Three era in Boston.
Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news.Welcome to the family #20!!
— Micky Arison (@MickyArison) July 7, 2012
Allen made the choice to head south to Miami for around half the annual salary the Celtics were offering. In Miami, Allen would have the chance to play with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, while making a fresh start with a new team. Allen signed a three-year, $9.7 million deal in July.
Reports that Allen was unhappy in Boston began to surface. There was an apparent rift between Allen and mercurial point guard Rajon Rondo, and Allen was said to be unhappy with a lack of respect from management. A Yahoo! Sports report quoted a source as saying: “He felt he was getting respect [from the Heat] that he hadn’t gotten from [Celtics president] Danny [Ainge] and [coach] Doc [Rivers] anymore. … The [Heat] presentation was incredible.”
Ainge had placed Allen on the trading block in February in hopes that the C’s could get a younger player. And a deal with the Grizzlies for O.J. Mayo apparently was so close to being done that Rivers contacted Allen to let him know. That didn’t sit well with Allen.
Then Rivers inserted Avery Bradley, favoring his defensive tact over Allen’s 3-point shooting ability, into the starting lineup. Allen only started in the Eastern Conference finals because Bradley was out with a shoulder injury.
In his final season with the Celtics, Allen averaged 16.7 points and drilled 798 3-pointers. (For comparison’s sake, his best season with the Celtics was in 2008-09, when he averaged 18.2 points.)
Allen, who turned 37 a week after signing with the Heat, had begun to show signs of aging. Injuries kept him off the court for part of his final season with the C’s. An early ankle injury led to Bradley’s debut in the starting lineup.
Allen played with bone spurs in his right ankle, limiting his effectiveness. He shot 48.5 percent from behind the 3-point line in the first 28 games of the season. His number of shots decreased and his 3-point percentage dipped to 41.2 percent in the final 18 games of the regular season.
In the offseason, the Celtics pursued Jason Terry, like Allen a 3-point marksman, signaling less time on the court for Allen.
Allen, at his Heat introductory press conference, said he texted Kevin Garnett to inform him of his thinking in the process.
“When I was knew I was leaning toward Miami, I actually sent a text out to Kevin, just to let him know,” Allen said. “I just remember this process in ’08 when [James] Posey left us. He left and we just really wanted him back. He went to New Orleans and we didn’t get a chance to try to get Danny to give him a little something extra, or whatever it was. I didn’t want that to be the case with me in this situation.
“So, I texted Kevin, I told him, I said, ‘Hey, I’m leaning this way. I just want you to know,’ without getting into the finite details of the deal. He said, ‘Well, Danny will step up to the plate and do whatever you need him to do.’ I was like, ‘Well, we’ll see.’ That was somewhat of the small discussion that we had.”
Ainge ultimately did step up, offering $6 million for two years, but Allen opted for what appears to be a better shot at a title run, with more playing time, in Miami.
“No one player makes a team, and players choose not to come here all the time,” Ainge responded. “There are 30 good basketball teams out there and it’s a very competitive league and there’s other teams outside of Boston. We knew Ray had this option and this opportunity and he chose to go that direction.”
Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, in an appearance on Mut & Merloni, expressed his disappointment regarding Allen’s departure.
“I was surprised, but I wasn’t utterly shocked,” Grousbeck said. “Let’s face it, he was not necessarily going to start. As Doc put it, he felt somehow that he was slighted possibly in the recruiting process in this offseason. … If Doc’s report is correct, Ray felt he was second fiddle to first, Avery Bradley and then Kevin Garnett, so he decided to go to our arch-rival for less than half the money, so be it.”
Added Grousbeck: “We are 24/7 trying to make this team dominant. And I will say the one thing that has really got me smiling right now is reading people saying [Allen will] have a better chance for a ring down in Miami. We’ve added some talent, we’ve lost some talent, but I don’t know anybody who can predict what’s going to happen in the East next year, and I think we’ve gotten better.”
Wade was excited at the prospect of playing with Allen and vying for back-to-back NBA titles.
“When you get a chance to add one of the best shooters in history, the best 3-point shooter in history, and you’re adding him and making your team better while at the same time hurting one of your biggest rivals, you’re pretty happy when it works out,” Wade said. “Ray’s going to give us another element in our offense, another weapon, and he’s really going to enjoy the golf courses, I know that.”
Bradley, who has yet to play for the C’s this season after having shoulder surgery, spoke about the loss of his teammate and what it means going forward.
“I feel like I can speak for all of us: It’s kind of hard to see him go, because he was such a great teammate,” Bradley said. “And not only a teammate, he was like a brother to all of us, so it was hard to see him go, but when you start playing this game you learn that it’s all a business. People come and go. So, you’ve just got to wish the best for people. We wish the best for Ray, and we know that he’ll do good, because he’s such a good guy and such a good player. We’ve just got to keep building as a team and focus on the season.”
Allen debuted with the Heat against the Celtics, scoring 19 points in Miami’s victory. Allen greeted his former coaches and teammates before checking into the game, although KG wasn’t too interested in exchanging pleasantries.
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