Ainge: 'I feel Ray left us'

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Ainge: 'I feel Ray left us'

WALTHAM As much as Saturday morning's press conference was about introducing the C's newest signings, there was no getting around the one that got away - Ray Allen.

Allen spent the past five seasons with the Celtics before becoming a free agent this summer. The veteran guard decided to sign with the Miami Heat, a team that will pay him about half of what he could have earned had he accepted the C's offer of 12 million over two years.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, on losing Allen.

"I don't feel like we lost him," Ainge said. "I feel Ray left us to go to Miami. We appreciate all that Ray has done, and all that Shannon (Allen's wife) and Ray have done in our community and we tried to get Ray back. He chose to go to Miami."

Earlier this week in Miami, the Heat held a press conference to introduce its new signings which included Allen.

During Allen's 30-minute press conference which was followed by another 15-minute session with Boston media, the bulk of the questions he received were centered around his time in Boston which included him addressing his relationship with Rajon Rondo which was reportedly a major factor in his decision to spurn the Celtics and sign with the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

"I can't say that it factored into my decision," Allen said when asked about his relationship with Rondo. "As teammates, we were brothers. I'm around them more than I am my own family. There's differences; we all have differences. That's just part of who you are as individuals. At the end of the day, we have to buy into what the coach believes is best for us. As players, we have to put our differences aside."

Allen added, "I made a decision based on what will ultimately keep me happy. I wouldn't put it on one person."

It was clear even before free agency that the C's would have a tough time convincing Allen to return.

He had lost his starting job to Avery Bradley which came after his role seemed to have already started to diminish. When you throw in the constant trade rumors coupled with an offer from the C's that was double what the Heat offered - but several million less than the offer extended to Garnett which is what Allen was anticipating - his departure did not come as a total shock to Ainge and the Celtics.

"No one player makes a team," Ainge said. "Players choose not to come here all the time. There are 30 good basketball teams out there and it's a very competitive league. There are other teams outside of Boston. We knew Ray had this option and this opportunity. He chose to go in that direction."

And the C's have chosen to do what teams always have to do in these kind of situations - move on.

But as much as Allen and the C's will cast his decision as being one about the business of basketball, there's a sense that it became personal - maybe too personal - for both sides.

"It's always both," Ainge said. "We're dealing with humans. We're not dealing with trading cards, and this is not fantasy league basketball. It's real people, real lives, real families. It's always a consideration, absolutely."