Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images
A little more than five years ago, the Celtics welcomed Ray Allen to Boston.WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Saturday that he wasn't surprised by Ray Allen's decision to sign with the rival Miami Heat, but stressed that Boston wanted the veteran sharpshooter back and that it was ultimately Allen's decision to walk away.
"I don’t feel like we lost Ray, I feel like Ray left us to go to Miami," said Ainge. "We appreciate all that Ray’s done and all him and (his wife) Shannon have done in our community. We tried to get Ray back, he chose to go to Miami."
Speaking publicly on Allen for the first time since the soon-to-be 37-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Heat on Wednesday, Ainge expressed gratitude for Allen's contributions to the Celtics the last five years, but did seem stung by the decision to end the Big Three era despite Boston's efforts to put back together all the pieces from last season.
"You’d have to ask Ray the decisions why," Ainge said when asked if Allen's diminished role played a factor in his departure. "I talked with Ray a lot over the last five years, I'm a fan of Ray and, like I said, I’m grateful for what he’s done. He’ll always be part of that 2008 championship and the success we’ve had since then as well. But, I have a feeling that it wasn't one thing. I think it was an accumulation of lots of things, including the lure of Miami. I’ll just leave it at that."
Asked then if he was surprised by Allen's decision, Ainge offered: "No. I’ll say that I was hopeful he would make another decision, but I was not surprised."
The Celtics formally announced the re-signings of Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Chris Wilcox on Saturday, while also bringing in Jeff Green and Jason Terry, whose contracts are intentionally not done in order to leave the team some room to maneuver, but are expected to be finalized next week.
Ainge expressed satisfaction in the team's offseason, with Allen the only apparent miss thus far.
"No one player makes the team," said Ainge. "Players chose not to come here all the time. There’s 30 good basketball teams out there and it’s a very competitive league. There’s other teams outside of Boston and we knew that Ray had this option and this opportunity and he chose to go that direction."
Assessing the offseason as a whole thus far, Ainge noted, "It’s a longer process than I’d like. The moratorium is challenging to work through, but, yeah, as far as our results to this stage, and what our hopes for are in the week to come, I feel very good about it."