Doc Rivers says it's his fault that Ray Allen left the Celtics for Miami.
The Celtics coach said in an interview with Yahoo Sports that his lineup moves were the impetus for Allen's departure.
"People can use all the Rondo stuff -- and it was there, no doubt about that -- but it was me more than Rondo," said Rivers, referring to the reported rift between Allen and point guard Rajon Rondo. "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.
"And not starting bothered Ray. 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. 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.' "
In fact, Rivers might have waited longer than he should have to move Allen to a role off the bench -- a role that seemed to make him more a part of the offense with the second group and better utilize his skills. But there was no question the starters and bench players functioned better with Avery Bradley in the first five and Allen as a reserve.
Interestingly, Rivers doesn't believe Allen's role will change much with the Heat.
"Ray's got to do what's best for Ray," he said. "But having said that, he's not going to start in Miami, and I doubt he gets the ball more. But I do think, for a guy like Ray and Paul (Pierce) and Kevin (Garnett) and Kobe (Bryant), it's easier to go somewhere and do that than have it taken from you where you're at.
"As a coach, you've got to do what's best for the team. If guys don't like it, they're going to leave. If they stay and don't like it, well, your team's going to suck anyway. Even if this happens, you still have to do it. You can't coach worrying about any individual. You've got to coach worrying about your entire team, whether that gets you a championship or whether that gets you fired.
"I think it allows you to coach free. You're coaching with freedom because you know you're doing what you think is right. I always tell my guys, 'If I'm wrong, hopefully I'm smart enough, or my staff, or one of you guys -- because I do listen to you -- will tell me that I'm wrong. But not one player ever told me, 'Hey, I don't think you should start Avery.' "
The Celtics have brought in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to fill Allen's void.
"For a week or two, I was really disappointed, pissed, because I thought it was for all the wrong reasons," Rivers said of Allen's departure. "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.
"If Ray came back, it had to be because he was thinking, 'We're going to work this (stuff) out, and we're going to win.' And if he didn't come back, it was because he thought he couldn't work it out here. What they're asking him to do in Miami, he just couldn't do in Boston.
"But here's what wasn't going to change: The ball's not going to be in Ray's hands more; the ball's going to be in Rondo's hands. That's not going to change. Now that you've voiced you should have the ball more, or you want to start, or you want more freedom in the offense, that's not going to go away. It's going to be the same stuff. If he comes back, it's going to be because he's figured it out. If he leaves, it's going to be because he didn't get over it. Whatever he decided, his decision was right."
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