There are two sides to every story, and on Thursday, future NBA Hall of Famer Ray Allen told his.
Years from now, those that were fortunate enough to have seen the team play will probably tell their grandchildren about the 2007-08 NBA Champion Boston Celtics.
Led by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Allen and Rajon Rondo, those Celtics became an excellent basketball team in rather quick fashion, going 66-16 in their first season together and beating the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals.
Had they not been undercut by injuries and had the opportunity to keep their band together, the Celtics may have very well won three consecutive championships.
Instead, they may go down as being one of the best champions to fail to win more than one title.
After losing to the Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals, the Celtics would lose to the Miami HEAT in both the 2011 and 2012 playoffs. With LeBron James and Dwyane Wade having been unsuccessful in their individual attempts to overthrow the Celtics as an Eastern Conference power, they would eventually team up and turn the tide on the aging trio.
Ray Allen became the first member of the team’s core four to leave, as he opted to sign with the Miami HEAT after becoming a free agent in July 2012. That Allen joined the team that was a rival of the Celtics was considered an act of betrayal by not only fans in Boston, but by his former teammates.
In the years that have followed, the circumstances under which Allen left Boston for Miami weren’t well-known. All that seemed to be common knowledge was that Pierce and Garnett felt that Allen abandoned the team and, it was alleged, Allen departed Boston without as much as a phone call to any of his former teammates.
Since then, there’s been a lot of guessing as to what exactly caused Allen to leave, and until Thursday, he’d remained relatively silent on the matter.
Appearing on ESPN’s First Take on Thursday, Allen finally told his side of the story.
“When I left, it was clear that the team wasn’t doing what they needed to do to bring me back into the next year into the fold,” Allen said.
“We wanted a new contract,” he said, clarifying his position that he and his agent were involved in season-long negotiations with the Celtics prior to his becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2012.
In all, according to Allen, his departure from Boston had nothing to do with personal feelings or animus and everything to do with business. According to him, he ultimately decided that his tenure in Boston was over when Danny Ainge issued him an ultimatum and offered him a below-market contract in a “take it or leave it” proposition.
From that point, Allen says, he began discussing his other options with his wife and his agent—the Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves and, of course, Miami.
“By the time [free agency] came, [the Celtics] had signed everyone else contractually and then when it came time for me, it was like, ‘This is all we have left for you,’ and we had the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and the Minnesota Timberwolves.”
While Allen did admit that there was some static between him and Rajon Rondo, he suggested that his run-ins with Rondo were nothing that he couldn’t deal with and that, for him, the major reason be left Boston was business.
“I didn’t know where I was gonna end up, but when you look at the dominoes and how they fall, you have your opinions in front of you. I’m not gonna sabotage myself because people are gonna be mad that I go to Miami,” Allen said.
“I have an opportunity to win a championship ring… Once you put the cards on the table, this [was] the best position I had. Once I know that my tenure in Boston [was] over, I had to go where I knew I had the best opportunity to win.”
During Allen’s description of the events that led to his departure from Boston, one name that seemed relevant didn’t come up: O.J. Mayo.
In a 2013 interview with SLAM Magazine, Allen revealed that the Celtics agreed to trade him to Memphis in exchange for Mayo at the 2012 trade deadline. In that interview, Allen stated that Ainge told him that the trade was done and that Allen notified his family that they would be relocating to Memphis.
Thereafter, the trade fell apart, but Allen emerged from the situation having felt that “loyalty” was only a one-way street.
“For three years the team had shopped me around and tried to move me,” Allen told SLAM.
“For that final year I was there, I was actually traded to Memphis. I got the phone call and told that I was traded for O.J. Mayo… I took that into my summer, that I could potentially—regardless of what I did for the team—there’s no great loyalty shown amongst the teams to the players, ’cause they’ll trade you in a heartbeat.”
Another reason why Allen’s departure from Boston has gotten renewed attention was because he was conspicuously absent from Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony in Boston in February.
“First of all, I wasn’t invited,” Allen said on First Take.
“At no point did anybody reach out to me and say, ‘We would love for you to be here’… I knew nothing about his jersey retirement.”
Allen noticeably posted a photo on Instagram during Pierce’s ceremony. It was perceived as a slight against Pierce. The perception was that Allen simply had better things to do than make the trip from Los Angeles (where the photo was taken) to Boston.
At the end of the day, it was good to hear Allen speak about his exit and tell his side of the story, especially after Garnett (who currently works for TNT and has his own platform) appeared on the network with Pierce, Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis and discussed Allen and his departure from the team at length.
The former Celtics didn’t exactly use the term “traitor” on air, but many of their comments suggested that they felt that Allen betrayed them by leaving Boston.
Allen was asked about that.
“I would have much more appreciated it if [Garnett] brought me on the show and told me, ‘You know, let’s clear the air, let’s figure this out, let’s mend the fences,’ instead of sitting here talking about why you’re mad at me,” Allen said.
“I’m a brother. KG and I grew up together. [He’s] forgotten the genesis of our relationship. We were kids struggling to make it, to make a life better for our kids and our families. At what point do you just say, ‘It’s just basketball, it’s not personal?’”
Far from perfect, Allen did own up to the fact that he could have engaged his former teammates more and let them know that he’d felt his tenure with the team had ended, and he mentioned Paul Pierce by name.
“I’ve made mistakes and I can admit that,” Allen said. “I could admit that I should have really thoroughly engaged those guys as I was going through the process, but it’s difficult at the time.”
Allen said that he still loves his former teammates and has no ill will toward any of them. He would be open to receiving a phone call, so it’ll be interesting to see whether or not that actually happens.
Paul Pierce, coincidentally, is currently employed as an NBA analyst by ESPN, while Garnett, as mentioned, is employed by TNT. Each of the players have platforms to respond to Allen’s comments, so in all likelihood, we haven’t heard the last from one of the more discussed teams this generation has seen.
Still, it was nice to hear directly from Ray Allen… Finally.
The majority of the 15-plus minute interview is available on ESPN’s YouTube channel.
NBA Draft Night Trades
David Yapkowitz breaks down the trades that took place during the 2018 NBA Draft.
Another NBA Draft has come and gone. With rumors swirling all week about possible pick/player movement, the night remained relatively uneventful. There were a few trades that occurred, however. Here’s a quick breakdown of the movement that happened on draft night.
1. Atlanta Hawks/Dallas Mavericks
The Hawks and Mavericks completed the first trade of the night early on in the draft. Leading up to the draft, there were questions about how high Luka Doncic was going to be drafted. It was widely assumed that he wouldn’t slip past Dallas at No. 5. The Mavericks weren’t going to take that chance as the Hawks drafted Doncic with the intention of trading him to Dallas for Trae Young.
Both teams ultimately get what they need. It’s been reported that the Hawks might move on from Dennis Schroder this summer and they’ll need a point guard to replace him. Young is an explosive scorer who will fit in nicely with Atlanta’s rebuild. He can score from anywhere on the court and he’s a great playmaker as well.
For the Mavericks, they get a guy to add to their own young core with Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes. Doncic has the size to play next to Smith in the backcourt. He’s quite possibly the best playmaker in the draft with a solid offensive game as well.
2. Charlotte Hornets/Los Angeles Clippers
The Hornets and Clippers consummated the second move the night by swapping their own draft picks. The Hornets took Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the 11th pick and then immediately traded him to the Clippers for Miles Bridges, whom Los Angeles selected at No. 12.
For the Hornets, they get a guy who can play both forward positions. Bridges is more of a small forward but in small ball lineups, he can slide over to the four. Offensively he is at his best when he puts the ball on the floor and attacks the rim. He’s a decent shooter too.
The Clippers get a point guard who was rumored to climbing up many draft boards as the night approached. Gilgeous-Alexander is a solid pick for them provided both Patrick Beverly and Milos Teodosic’ injury history. He can also play off the ball if need be. He’s got the physical tools to be a very good defender at the NBA level. It’s not at all far-fetched to imagine him as the future long-term starting point guard for the Clippers.
The Hornets also got two future second-round picks from the Clippers.
3. Philadelphia 76ers/Phoenix Suns
The Sixers and the Suns had the next move of draft night, also swapping their picks. The Sixers selected hometown hero Mikal Bridges with the No. 10 pick and later traded him to the Suns for the No. 16 pick, Zhaire Smith.
Bridges made a lot of sense for the Sixers. Not only is he a local guy, but his mother works for the team as well. He was a talented player who fit their team. He gave a post-draft press conference raving about being a Sixer all the while he had been traded already. But such is life in the NBA. Instead, Phoenix gets a guy that’s ready to contribute in the NBA right away. He’s the prototypical 3&D type guy.
For the Sixers, Zhaire Smith is another guy who was steadily climbing the boards in the days leading up to the draft. He’s a very athletic prospect with good defensive instincts. He probably won’t play much right away, but he does have the potential to end up being one of the better rotation players in this draft.
The Sixers also get a 2021 first-round pick from the Suns via the Miami Heat. It’s highly likely this ends up being a lottery pick and thus giving the Sixers the chance to add a high-end talent to an already potent group.
4. Second-Round moves
There are a few second-round moves that were made as well.
For one, the Hawks selected Devonte Graham with the 34th pick and traded him to the Hornets for two future second-round picks. Graham is another NBA ready guy who can come in and immediately contend for backup point guard minutes behind Kemba Walker.
The Sixers were involved in another deal sending the No. 38 pick Khyri Thomas to the Detroit Pistons for two future second-round picks. Thomas is a player that many projected to go in the first round. For a team that didn’t have a first-round pick coming into the night, the Pistons essentially picked one up. It’s possible he turns out better than Detroit’s most recent first-rounders Henry Ellenson and Luke Kennard.
The Sacramento Kings drafted Gary Trent Jr. with the 37th pick only to trade him to the Portland Trail Blazers for two future second-round picks. Trent was one of the better shooters in the draft and that’s what he projects to the be in the NBA. He’s probably a few years away from earning a spot in the rotation but he was also a possible first-round pick. He’s more NBA ready than Anfernee Simons who the Blazers took in the first-round.
The Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets swapped second-round picks with the Magic sending the No. 41 pick Jarred Vanderbilt to the Nuggets for the No. 43 pick Justin Jackson and a future second-round pick. Vanderbilt is a project in every sense of the word. He’s extremely raw and probably needed more time in college. But he’s got long-term potential and could pay off in the future. Jackson, on the other hand, was possibly a first-round talent had he entered the draft last year. He’s going to have to make the roster but could be a 3&D guy.
In the final move of the night, the Hornets traded the No. 45 pick Hamidou Diallo to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Diallo is a guy that had he come out last year, probably would’ve been a first-round guy. In any case, he is also very raw and will need seasoning in the G-League. He’s got all the physical tools and skill to be a good rotation NBA player.
#28 – Jacob Evans – Golden State Warriors
With the 28th overall pick, the Golden State Warriors selected Cincinnati Junior Jacob Evans.
Evans represents a solid pick for nearly any NBA team. Evans fits in the mold of a potential 3-and-D role player. Evans improved in his time at Cincinnati, culminating in his junior year, where he scored 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. Evans spent three seasons at Cincinnati and rounded himself into a versatile two-way player who can bring a lot of value at the NBA level.
Evans is a very cognitive player, especially on the defensive end. He has a better grasp of his limitations than most players at this stage of their respective careers and is able to maximize his individual defensive ability within a team concept. Evans generally makes the right rotations, double-teams at the right times and funnels his opponents to where his teammates are when he cannot contain the ball-handler on his own. With the right coaching, he could become a valuable defensive wing in an NBA rotation sooner than some anticipate.
Additionally, Evans is more than just a shooter. He led his team in assists last season and has some skill as a playmaker. Evans will be more of a shooter and finisher in the NBA, but the ability to make the right pass, swing the ball when he isn’t open and take the ball off the dribble when necessary make him an intriguing prospect. This is especially true when you consider how valuable a player like Khris Middleton has become over the years, adding layers to his 3-and-D skill set each season.
The Warriors aren’t in need of an influx of talent but are happy to add Evans regardless.
#27 – Robert Williams III – Boston Celtics
With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.
With the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics have selected Robert Williams III.
Although there were early week rumors that the Celtics might try to trade up, they’ve ultimately elected to find a difference-maker at the end of the first round instead. For a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals despite debilitating injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, Boston’s roster didn’t need a wholesale change on draft night. But at No. 27, they’ll be more than happy to leave with the mysterious-but-talented Williams.
Last year, Williams was viewed as a potential first-rounder before he returned to Texas A&M for his sophomore year. In 2017-18, Williams averaged 10.4 points and 9.2 rebounds on 63.2 percent from the field, fueling the Aggies to a 22-13 record. During this current pre-draft process, Williams looked poised to become a mid-first-round selection once again — but his stock faded as the big night got closer. In fact, Williams even decided to watch the draft with his family, even though he was a green room invitee.
His stock has undoubtedly dropped as of late, but this may end up being the steal of the draft — naturally, he dropped right into general manager Danny Ainge’s lap. Williams, 6-foot-10, is a freak athlete that’ll bring a new look to an already fearsome defensive unit in Boston. At A&M, Williams won back-to-back SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors and averaged 2.5 blocks per game. Of course, he’ll get the opportunity to learn from the hard-nosed Al Horford, a five-time All-Star and the defensive linchpin for Boston — a win-win situation for all.
Williams, 20, joins an extremely young core in Boston that also includes Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, among others.