Ainge regrets not re-signing Allen

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Ainge regrets not re-signing Allen

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

WALTHAM When Danny Ainge makes a personnel decision, it's rare that even with hindsight, he looks back on it with regret.

But the decision to not pursue re-signing Tony Allen with more vigor last summer was one that Ainge admits he wouldn't mind a do-over on, if possible.

At the time, Ainge had originally offered Allen a shorter-term deal than the three-year, 9.7 million contract he agreed to with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The perception has been that the Celtics didn't step up financially to bring Allen back.

"We offered Tony the same deal he ended up getting in Memphis," Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, said on Friday.

However, that offer did not come until after the Grizzlies' offer.

Ainge's initial offer was for fewer years than Allen was willing to accept.

By the time Boston stepped up and matched the Grizzlies' offer, Allen began to think more about the opportunity to start fresh in Memphis as opposed to coming back to the Celtics and remaining a backup to Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

Ainge recognizes that Allen may still be a Celtic had he made his final offer initially, "but we were trying to maintain our (salary cap) flexibility," he said.

Kevin Garnett, who will make 21.25 million this upcoming season, and Ray Allen who is expected to pick up his option for this upcoming season that will pay him 10 million, are both coming off the Celtics books prior to the summer of 2012.

The Celtics didn't want to re-sign Tony Allen to a contract that went beyond two seasons.

"It wasn't about money, it was about years and flexibility," Ainge said. "We wanted to keep a lot of cap flexibility and that was the issue."

Since leaving Boston for Memphis, Tony Allen has distinguished himself as one of the league's premier defenders which is evident by him being named to the NBA's All-Defensive second team this season.

One of the main pitches the Grizzlies made to woo Allen was an opportunity to establish a name for himself instead of remaining in the shadow of Allen and Pierce.

In Memphis, Tony Allen has become more of a leader both on and off the court and was instrumental in the eighth-seeded Grizzlies upsetting top-seeded San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs.

After Friday's 95-83 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder (they prominently feature another cast aside former Celtic, Kendrick Perkins), Allen and the Grizzlies are now one win away from a trip to the Western Conference finals.

"I'm more vocal," Allen said of his leadership role with Memphis. "As if I was Kevin (Garnett) or Paul (Pierce). They were the most vocal guys (in Boston). I kind of just looked at what they were doing. They were the realist. If something was going wrong in a game, they'd speak on it and they don't let it get out of hand. That's pretty much what I do with our guys."

Said Ainge: "I don't think Tony always liked his role here in Boston. I don't think we understand how hard it is playing behind Ray and Paul, because they're so good."

If Boston had offered three years initially, Ainge believes there's a good chance that Allen would be a Celtic now.

That still may not have been enough for the Celtics' season to be alive right now.

"I don't think he's a savior for a team," said Ainge, who added, "I think he's a good player."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

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Report: Paul Pierce '50-50' about retirement after Clippers' exit

After the Clippers were elminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night, a disappointed Paul Pierce told ESPN that he was "50-50" about retirement. 

In a video after Portland's Game 6 victory posted on oregonlive.com, the former Celtics captain said his "heart is broken" by another playoff elimination. 

Pierce signed a a three-year, $10 million contract to return home (he grew up in Inglewood, Calif.) and play for his old coach Doc Rivers in Los Angeles.  He'll be 39 next season and coming off the worst season of his career. Pierce averaged 6.1 points, 36 percent shooting and 18 minutes a game, all career lows.

How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

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How does Isaiah Thomas improve? Eating right is one step

WALTHAM, Mass. -- This past season, Isaiah Thomas took a major step forward to becoming more than just a solid NBA player, but one of the game’s best.
 
He knows he won’t stay among the elite for long if he doesn’t make some changes with the most notable being to his diet.
 
“I do not eat good,” Thomas acknowledged following his exit interview this week. “I eat like a young guy, a young guy who got a little bit of money, fast food every day. But I’m definitely going to change.”
 
The change becomes necessary not only in light of how the season ended for him and the Celtics, but also for his long-term goals, which include playing in the NBA until he’s at least 40 years old.
 
“I’m not that old but the greatest players took care of their bodies the best,” Thomas said.
 
Among those cited by Thomas who excelled at taking care of their bodies was former Celtic Ray Allen.
 
But Thomas was quick to add that he won’t go to the lengths that Allen did in maintaining good health.
 
“Because he’s a little crazy with that,” quipped Thomas. “I just want to play at a high level for a long time, like Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant. You have to take care of your body. That’s half the battle of performing out there on the floor.
 
Thomas added, “This is a big summer for me to start doing that.”
 
Eating right is just part of the transformation process for Thomas.
 
He’ll also modify is offseason workouts to include some work in the boxing ring with long time friend Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
 
“I’m definitely work with him a few times, get my conditioning right, probably train, do some boxing stuff on the side, just to get in that type of shape,” Thomas said. “You get in that type of shape you won’t get tired on the basketball floor. This summer is big for me, transforming my body, getting into the best shape possible and coming back and having another all-star year.”
 
For the Celtics to improve upon this past season, they will need Thomas to continue elevating his play as well as the play of those around him.
 
It is that latter point that was among the many reasons Boston’s season is over. No matter what he did, those around him could not step their game up to a level needed in order to get past the Atlanta Hawks.
 
Chalk it up to another lesson learned for Thomas.
 
“You can’t do it on your own,” Thomas said. “There’s no way you can do it on your own. Nobody can do it on your own; and how hard it is to win playoff games, a playoff series. It’s not easy.”
 
And when you come up short, for Thomas is created an uneasiness that he never wants to experience again.
 
“I’m going to do whatever it takes to not have this feeling again,” he said. “It really hurt me. I’m going to use that as motivation to continue to get better and to work on my flaws and make those into my strengths. I promise you’ll I’ll be back better than ever next year.”