The principal parties in the Ray Allen-to-Miami drama have either been radio silent or have tried to take the high road, but you get the sense that it’s only a matter of time before the dirt starts to fly. If you’re Rajon Rondo, you’re no doubt keenly aware that Ray’s decision to bolt (to your bitter rival, no less) has been blamed on major friction between you and Mr. Allen. You hear the chatter, no matter who hard you try to disconnect from the situation. You understand that people are once again questioning your moody disposition, your prickly personality, and your inability to relate to your teammates away from the court. So if you’re Rondo, you know the questions are going to come up – from friends, fans and – more importantly – the relentless media who want nothing more than to stir the pot, even if there’s nothing there to stir.
So, what do you do if you’re Rondo?
And what about Allen himself? You know he’s due to speak on the decision to leave, and you know he’s working closely with his agent and various PR types to ensure that he says and does all of the right things. When Allen does speak, he’ll be quick to thank the Celtics for five wonderful, career-changing years in Boston. He’ll lavish praise on Danny Ainge for putting the Big Three together and keeping it competitive. He’ll describe how difficult a decision it was to leave Doc Rivers, one of the best coaches of all-time. He’ll throw mad love at Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. And last, but not least, he’ll thank us, the fans, for our unwavering support. He may even shed a tear or two along the way. It will make for great theatre, but at the end of the day it still is what it is. Everyone involved will know that this is all about saying the right things and not looking bad to the masses who may not know all of the intricate details as to why you flipped Ainge the bird and metaphorically told him to shove his Bird Rights up his proverbial backside.
And what about Danny Ainge? I don’t think Ainge has a lot to apologize for, but you know he’ll be pressed by the media to discuss the situation at length. Like Allen, Ainge will try to say all of the right things – that he wanted Ray back, that he was prepared to pay him big money, that Ray was an integral part of the Celtics’ plans over the next 2-3 years. He won’t spend a lot of time talking about the two times he tried to trade Ray away, or the decision to pursue Jason Terry. And he shouldn’t. But the questions will come at him, to be sure. Those are the types of decisions that he’s paid to make and then talk about. So it will be interesting to see how Ainge handles those queries, and whether any of his responses spark a verbal return from the Allen camp.
Whatever happens, it’s clear that the Rondo-Allen-Ainge triangle has been a strained relationship for some time now. It makes you wonder if we’d be having this conversation had Ainge gone through with a Rondo trade – with all of the Allen talk, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that Rondo was also on the block a couple of times last season. And if Allen’s feelings were hurt, is Rondo harboring any resentment toward Ainge for being dangled as trade bait?
Hard to tell. We may never know for sure, but the Allen-to-Miami mess is putting a lot of pressure on the parties involved, and it feels as if it’s only a matter of time before the blame game is being played from Boston to South Beach.