Doc Rivers Talks Ray Allen

Over at Yahoo Sports, Adrian Wojnarowski has an excellent interview with Doc Rivers, where the Celtics coach expounds on the reasons Ray Allen left Boston. The piece is headlined, “Doc Rivers takes blame for Ray Allen’s decision to leave Celtics for Heat,” but really, blame isn’t quite the right word. It’s more like Doc Rivers explains why Ray Allen had to leave if he wasn’t going to get with the program. From the piece:

“People can use all the Rondo stuff – and it was there, no doubt about that – but it was me more than Rondo,” said Rivers, who is working as an NBC analyst during the Olympics. “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.”

As anyone who’s watched about five minutes worth of Celtics basketball over the last few years could tell you, there’s no question that the only way for them to win is with everything running through Rajon Rondo. Ray Allen was a great player in his day—probably the greatest three point shooter in NBA history—but the 26-year-old Rondo is one of the league’s best facilitators. He led the NBA in assists per game last year and has been second in assist percentage (an estimate of the number of teammate field goals a player assisted on while he was on the floor) the last two seasons. Of course the ball needs to be in his hands! There aren’t too many people in the league whose hands you’d rather have it in.

As Rivers, who also discusses Allen’s unhappiness with being removed from the starting lineup, tells Wojnarowski, “By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a hypocrite.” Rivers is right, and if 37-year-old Ray Allen couldn’t accept the new order of things on the Celtics, it probably is better that he left.