Ainge: Allen is open to a return to Boston


Ainge: Allen is open to a return to Boston

WALTHAM Ray Allen remains the lone question mark when it comes to whether or not the Celtics Big Three will be re-booted once again, now five editions in the books.

Whether there will be a version 6.0 hinges heavily on whether Allen returns.

Although Allen reportedly has "interest" in playing for the Miami Heat, he apparently has interest in returning to the only team he has won a title with, too.

Multiple league sources contacted this week indicated that Allen's "interest" in the Heat has been overblown.

"They will definitely be a player for him," one source said. "But you're talking about one of the greatest shooters to ever play the game who keeps himself in excellent shape. NBA execs all know he's only going to play for a team that can compete for a championship. So it makes sense for the champs (Heat) to have interest, and for him to have some interest in them as well."

Said another source, "He's too smart to commit to any team this early in the game. Ray's going to listen to what folks have to say, and go from there."

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has had conversations with Allen since the Celtics' season ended.

In describing those conversations, Ainge said they were, "Just sort of what his hopes and future are, what he thinks of our team, would he like to come back, all those type of things."

Ainge, who said that the two have not had any contract-specific discussions, added, "I think Ray's open to coming back. I won't get into details . . . we've talked so I have a feel for where his head is."

Apparently Ainge must have been comfortable with what Allen had to say.

"On July 1, we'll talk more to Ray (about a possible return)," Ainge said.

Celtics coach Doc Rivers feels comfortable with Ainge doing whatever he deems necessary to make the C's a better team.

But Rivers has been steady in his preference that the Celtics bring back Allen in addition to the team's top priority, Kevin Garnett.

When asked about reports that indicated the NBA champion Miami Heat were interested in Allen, Rivers responded, "I think you'll hear that and probably 10 other teams. If they don't have interest in him, then they're crazy. But we have interest, too."

Celtics bench hurting with Smart out


Celtics bench hurting with Smart out

The Boston Celtics don’t reveal a ton about what happens behind their closed-door practices, but there were a couple of significant narratives that developed in the preseason.

Chief among them was the development of the bench which on many occasions, outplayed the starters.

Leading the second team surge on many days in the preseason was Marcus Smart, whose absence during the first two games of the season has been obvious.

Smart suffered a left ankle sprain injury in the Celtics’ final preseason game, an injury that reported at the time would sideline him for a couple of weeks.

A few days later, Smart confirmed the report by indicating he would be out of action for two weeks from the time of the injury.

That puts his return to the floor being Nov. 3 at Cleveland which would mean he would be missing the first four games of the season.

One of the reasons why the second unit had so much success against the starters, was the rhythm they developed playing with and off one another.

Trying to re-establish that on the fly without Smart has proven to be challenging at times for Boston’s second unit.

In the season-opening win over Brooklyn, Boston’s second unit was called upon to simply hold down a lead in the fourth quarter that peaked at 23. But the lead steadily shrunk and head coach Brad Stevens was forced to bring his starters back into the game.

And last night at Chicago, the second unit was never able to deliver the kind of impact-making plays that Boston’s backups can do.

But it goes beyond what Smart can do on the floor when he plays. Like most of his teammates, Smart’s presence has a way of allowing his other teammates to get into a rhythm and get accustomed to whatever role they are asked to play.

Without him, everyone’s job shifts just a little bit.

“They’re trying to figure it out on the fly,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder. “They had a few practices, maybe one tough day of practice without him; it’s tough. They’re trying to figure it out. There’s no other way to figure it out but in the game.”