WINTER PARK, Fla. — Celtics coach Doc Rivers was tanned and refreshed after a few weeks of golf following the season. His smile, however, could not hide his disappointment in losing Ray Allen to the rival Miami Heat.
“I’m just disappointed, he should have stayed,” Rivers said before the Celtics’ summer league entry began practice at Rollins College. “We recruited him just as hard [as Miami]. We talked [after he agreed to a three-year contract with the Heat]. It was a good talk. When a guy makes his mind up, I am not going to try to change it. I respect him for all he did for us, but I thought he should have stayed with us.”
The Celtics offered twice as much money, but Allen relayed to Rivers the issues he had this past season, and that made the difference.
“No, I didn’t [have confidence Allen was going to stay]. I didn’t know one way or the other,” Rivers said. “I just knew financially we were in a better position. But he had his reasons for leaving and I’m sure he’ll express those.’’
When asked if he agreed with Allen’s reasons for signing with Miami, Rivers said, “No. But that doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I think. I just wish we could have found a way [to keep him] and we didn’t. I’ll always put [the blame] on us, that’s easier.”
Rivers hinted that perhaps the Celtics first courting Kevin Garnett to return may have irritated Allen, who may not have felt he was a priority.
“I thought we did [pursue him],” Rivers said. “[President of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] in particular did exactly what he should have done. Kevin Garnett was our focal point, and he should have been. If that got anyone ruffled, then that’s probably too bad. We did everything that we’re supposed to do.
“[Allen] had his reasons. I think emotionally he probably got bent sideways a little bit by us courting Kevin, for some reason. I don’t know, honestly. Listen, he was great for us when he was here and that’s all we can say for it. Clearly, we would have liked him to stay with us. But I respect Ray and that will never go away.”
Allen’s departure ends one of the more memorable eras in Celtics history.
“It was going to happen eventually,” Rivers said. “Ray expedited it. It doesn’t change what we’re going to try to do next year at all. The show goes on. We’re going to be right back where want to be next year, and we’ll be ready.”
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Ainge said he would not comment about Allen until the league’s moratorium on signing free agents ends July 11. He is, however, moving on with team business, such as coming to an agreement with Jeff Green on a multiyear deal.
He is also hard at work trying to acquire a guard to take Allen’s place.
“Obviously, we need to fill the void, we need another shooting guard, of course,” he said. “There are a lot of good players left. We’re limited to what we can do with the biannual exception. We need to wait and see.”
Because the Celtics are over the salary cap, they cannot shift the $6 million per season offered to Allen to another player. The Celtics do have their biannual exception — which begins at $1.95 million per season — to offer a free agent.
Ainge said the team has been in contact with the representatives of Mickael Pietrus, who had been somewhat of an afterthought.
“We have been in contact with the whole list of guys you would look at,” Ainge said. “I don’t want to mention names, but we have been in contact with them. We’ll continue to find the best player we can.
“We’ve added a couple of great professionals in Jeff Green and Jason Terry, and we drafted three guys that I think are very professional and add to the locker room. Talent is a hard thing to find but we put a great deal of value into what goes on in the locker room also.”
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Green, according to agent David Falk, has been given clearance to play with no restrictions. He missed all of this past season after surgery to repair an aortic root. Falk said Green appreciated the way the Celtics treated him after learning of his ailment, and the club also allowed him to become be an unrestricted free agent by rescinding a qualifying offer in December.
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Mike Naiditch, the agent for Greg Stiemsma, met with the Timberwolves on Saturday but did not come away with an offer. The Timberwolves are waiting to see if the Trail Blazers match the reported $45 million offer sheet for Nicolas Batum, and that decision may not be official until July 14.
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.