Danny Ainge 'grateful' for Ray Allen

Updated: July 14, 2012, 9:22 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

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 depart.

"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 that him and (Allen's 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 -- accepting half the yearly salary that Boston was offering in the process -- Ainge expressed gratitude for Allen's contributions to the Celtics the last five years, but seemed slightly stung by Allen's decision to jump ship amid Boston's efforts to put back all the major pieces from last season.

The Celtics owned a 3-2 advantage before the Heat rallied to win the Eastern Conference finals and, eventually, the NBA title.

Allen, whose name turned up in midseason trade rumors, also lost his starting job to second-year guard Avery Bradley late in the regular season while he battled bone spurs in his right ankle.

"You'd have to ask Ray the decisions why (he signed with Miami)," 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 complete 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 thus far, with Allen the only apparent miss.

"No one player makes the team," Ainge said. "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."

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

  • Finding Their Groove
    Big swings by David Ortiz and Brock Holt helped the Red Sox top the O's on Saturday.
  • Tough Lesson
    The Bruins found out the hard way that the Red Wings won't go down easy.
  • Why They'll Run
    Six people impacted by the bombings share what motivated them to enter.
  • Cloudy Vision
    Danny isn't sure what the C's will look like, but he thinks they'll be better.
  • Change Of Heart
    After initially balking at returning, Rita Jeptoo will defend her Boston title.

ALSO SEE

MORE NBA HEADLINES