• Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! had breakfast with Doc Rivers in London, and the result is this killer piece in which Rivers essentially takes the blame in a roundabout sort of way for Ray Allen’s departure from Boston. Rivers confirms rumblings that the relationship between Rajon Rondo and Allen had become strained, and that Allen bristled at coming off the bench, but he tells Wojnarowski that those problems ultimately stemmed from Rivers’ own decisions:
“People can use all the Rondo stuff – and it was there, no doubt about that – but it was me more than Rondo,” said Rivers, who is working as an NBC analyst during the Olympics. “I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.
“Think about everything [Allen] said when he left, ‘I want to be more of a part of the offense.’ Everything was back at Rondo. And I look at that, and say, ‘That’s not Rondo’s fault.’ That’s what I wanted Rondo to do, and that’s what Rondo should’ve done. Because that’s Rondo’s ability. He’s the best passer in the league. He has the best feel in the league. He’s not a great shooter, so he needs the ball in his hands to be effective. And that bothered Ray.”
And Rivers has this on his decision to replace Allen in the starting lineup with Avery Bradley:
“And not starting [games] bothered Ray. I did examine it, and the conclusion I came back to was this: By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a hypocrite. In the opening speech I make every year, I tell the team: ‘Every decision I make is going to be what’s good for the team, and it may not be what’s good for the individual.’”
Allen is a very smart guy, and he surely weighed dozens of factors big and small in his decision to bolt for Miami. And as Rivers notes later in Wojnarowski’s piece, it’s unlikely Allen will start there or have the ball in his hands much — at least for purposes other than catching it and shooting it right away. All of these complicated dynamics with Rondo and Rivers’ rotation seem to have played a real role in Allen’s decision. One variable that hasn’t gotten enough attention: What if Allen looked at the last two playoff seasons, and at the bit of self-discovery the Heat experienced in the Finals, and concluded the Celtics simply weren’t going to beat Miami four times in seven games?
In any case, the Celtics have come out of this fine, essentially nabbing two starting-caliber shooting guards (Jason Terry and Courtney Lee) to replace Allen and in the process giving themselves more flexibility to go small — key against Miami — without having to put one or two fringe rotation guys on the floor.
• More e-mail answers from Wizards’ owner Ted Leonsis to the Wiz-themed blog Bullets Forever, including how advanced statistics played a role in Washington’s decision to sign A.J. Price last week.
• Joe Lacob, one of the Warriors’ owners, discusses the team’s decision to (barely) go over the luxury tax threshold.
• Mark Deeks of Sham Sports on how the Bulls might have been able to tack a year onto Omer Asik’s first contract – the one that expired on July 1, opening the door for Houston to sign Asik away via a poison pill offer sheet.
• Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! wonders why Ike Diogu, currently serving as the focal point of Nigeria’s Olympic squad, can’t stick on an NBA roster.
• Henry Abbott of ESPN.com weighs in on the NBA’s move, presumably in conjunction with FIBA, to brand a new World Cup tournament and simultaneously pass new rules that would ban NBA players over 23-years old from playing in the Olympics. Ken Berger of CBS Sports says the move, an obvious and justified money grab, comes at a dicey time.
• The Olympics give U.S. fans a rare chance to see some really delightful international point guards. Marcelinho Huertas, Brazil’s long-time floor general, has a wonderful cleverness to his game.
• And even so: Brazil has looked very shaky so far. Leandro Barbosa is not helping the cause for his next NBA contract.
• Tom Ziller of SB Nation on Brandon Roy signing with Minnesota, and claiming at his introductory press conference that he only retired because the Blazers medical staff suggested he do so — and that he never considered the decision permanent:
At some point after the lockout ended, the Blazers decided that Roy’s contract was too big a burden on their cap sheet. They knew better than any other team the dangers of medical retirement, and knew they had no other natural candidates for the amnesty clause. I’m not willing to believe a rather successful NBA franchise was legitimately torn on whether to roll the dice on whether a 27-year-old passionate about basketball would return to the game.
That’s why the whole charade was so insulting: it was obvious what the Blazers wanted to do. And hey, it worked. Roy’s exit was a tearful goodbye to a legend whose body wouldn’t cooperate, and not a cold expulsion of an albatross. Congratulations to the Blazers for pulling off a public scam.
When Ziller talks about the “dangers” of medical retirement, he’s talking specifically about the salary cap implications for a team in Portland’s situation. Click that link for a full explanation.
• Basketball moves so quickly, you sometimes to have slow down and rewind to refresh your memory on basic questions: What set was that? How does Player X dribble the ball? Where are Player Y’s sweet spots? Ethan Sherwood Strauss does this exercise with Michael Jordan’s game.
• Kevin Seraphin, the Wizards’ young big man, is fouling a lot in the Olympics.
• This is fantastic: Rob Mahoney, proprietor of the Mavs-themed blog The Two Man Game, made Tuesday — July 31 — Jason Terry Day on his blog, since Terry wore No. 31 for the Mavericks. There are all sorts of wonderful JET tributes here.
• Valley of the Suns details Wesley Johnson’s introduction to Phoenix, and the precise details of the first-round pick Phoenix will eventually receive from Minnesota as part of the three-way deal that sent Johnson to the Suns.
• Detroit fans are still missing Arron Afflalo, once flipped to Denver for a second-round pick, and so they are rooting for Kim English to stick around a while.