Ray Allen: Rajon Rondo stopped passing to me, and Doc Rivers responded by bringing me off bench

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Even as he enters the Basketball Hall of Fame, Ray Allen will receive few congratulations from the 2008 Celtics. Most of the problems between Allen and his former teammates stem from him leaving Boston for Miami in 2012.

But some predate him signing with the Heat – especially with Rajon Rondo.

Allen on his final year with the Celtics, via NBC Sports Boston:

There were parts throughout the season where I was starting to feel this type of resentment toward me on the floor. Other people would tell me at first, and I would ignore it, because I don’t like people getting into my team business, because this is my teammate. But people would always say, “He looks you off. When you come off a screen, he sees you and he doesn’t pass you the ball when you’re open.”

At first, my family would say it, because they watch intently, and they they know the game. And so I just said, “Listen, because you have said this before about other guys, but I don’t engage in that.” So then, I started paying attention to it, because I started noticing it.

And I went to Doc. And I asked Doc, and I said, “Doc, I think dude is looking me off, and he’s not passing me the ball. And I don’t know why, but I’m coming off, I’m running the plays that you’re drawing up, and he’s not passing me the ball. And he’ll shoot it or he’ll go in the other direction.”

And Doc’s response was, “I know. We talked about it as a coaching staff.”

I was like, “Wow. So you knew this whole time and you didn’t say anything. You didn’t address it to me and, more importantly, you’re not addressing him about it.”

I think his response or his way of handling it was, this is when he wanted to bring me off the bench.

Remember, this is just Allen’s point of view. Rondo and Rivers could recall events differently.

Rondo has previously implied Allen shouldn’t be viewed as credible, though it’s also worth acknowledging how stubborn Rondo can be. Maybe Rondo did this. Maybe he didn’t. It’s at least believable.

It’s also worth emphasizing Allen said his family previously accused other teammates of doing this. Maybe Allen has just happened to play with teammates that selfish. Or maybe his family is too suspicious and that rubbed off on Allen.

But if we take Allen’s account at face value, it’s a good reminder coaching in the NBA is difficult. Bringing Allen off the bench behind Avery Bradley, which limited Allen’s playing time with Rondo, contributed to Allen feeling unwelcome in Boston then leaving for Miami. On the other hand, confronting Rondo could have led to even worse problems for the Celtics. Rivers and Rondo already had tension in their relationship (that later worsened).

There isn’t always a good answer.

Players sometimes have agendas that interfere with winning. It’s on the coaching to manage that.

It wouldn’t be fair to Allen that he got demoted because a teammate was being selfish, but the NBA isn’t always fair. That might have been Boston’s best strategy for maximizing winning.

Bulls’ Denzel Valentine likely to miss entire season

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Bulls wing Denzel Valentine has had a rough go of it.

A lottery pick two years ago, battled ankle injuries during his rookie year and underwent ankle surgery after the season. He stayed mostly healthy last year, but his season still ended early for knee surgery. Then, over the summer, he got torched in the Drew League by Frank “Nitty” Session, who questioned how Valentine was in the NBA:

And now…

Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago:

Denzel Valentine was originally expected to miss one to two weeks after suffering a sprained ankle on the second day of training camp. One setback led to another, and on Monday the Bulls announced that the third year guard will undergo surgical reconstruction on that left ankle. He’ll miss four to six months, the team announced, effectively ending his season.

The long end of that timeline will keep Valentine sidelined the entire season. The short end would allow him to return late in the year, but with Chicago so dismal, there’s little incentive to rush him back.

Valentine is under contract next season, the final year of his rookie-scale deal. He might need to prove himself to make Nitty’s question still relevant.

Report: J.R. Smith and Cavaliers separating as they seek trade

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DETROIT – Yesterday – yesterday! – J.R. Smith explained why he didn’t leave the Cavaliers when, a few weeks ago, they pulled him from the rotation and gave him the offer to step away.

“I can’t do that to the city and the fans,” Smith said. “A lot of people have been backing me since I’ve been here. I feel like it’s been a new start since I came here. The way the fans embraced me, the way that I’ve embraced the city, my teammates, I can’t do that to them.”

But Smith also said Cleveland is tanking and reaffirmed his desire to be traded. That probably set wheels in motion.

Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

Smith – who’s guaranteed $18.59 million on a contract that will surely end after this season – carries negative trade value. The Cavs shouldn’t attach the sweetener necessary to dump him. They’re better off just paying him for now.

Because just $3.87 million of his $15.68 million salary for next season is guaranteed, Smith’s contract could prove useful in a trade.

If Smith would reduce his guarantee with a buyout, let him go. But Smith probably shouldn’t do that without a new job lined up.

So, the stalemate continues.

If everyone is happier apart, all the better. Smith wasn’t making a difference on the court for a team he correctly identified as tanking.

Report: ‘At the direction of his attorney,’ 76ers G Markelle Fultz to stop playing and practicing, see specialist

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Markelle Fultz said his shooting problems were due to injury, and just a couple weeks ago, he insisted he was generally healthy.

But something is clearly amiss.

The 76ers guard finally appears to be acknowledging it.

David Aldridge of The Athletic:

Should we read into Brothers – usually identified as Fultz’s agent – being referred to as Fultz’s attorney? That sounds ominous.

There has been back-and-forth between Fultz’s and the 76ers about who deserves blame for his struggles.

J.R. Smith: Cavaliers are tanking

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J.R. Smith said he wants the Cavaliers to trade him.

But that was right after they told Smith he’d be shut down. He has been playing regularly lately.

Still, Smith isn’t pleased with Cleveland.

J.R. Smith, via Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:

“I don’t think the goal is to win. The goal isn’t to go out there and try to get as many wins as you can,” Smith said. “I think the goal is to develop and lose to get lottery picks. I think that was always the plan.”

And as long as the Cavs are operating this way, Smith is not interested in being part of it.

“Not if the goal isn’t to compete, to win,” he said.

If that’s what the Cavaliers are doing, that’s smart. They need premier young talent, and a high draft pick is the best way to acquire it. Because they owe the Hawks a top-10-protected first-rounder, the Cavs need to tank hard rather taking half-measures.

But I also understand why Smith wants no part of it. He’s 33 years old, and he doesn’t have time to wait around for a rebuild. He wants to win now.

Smith should shame the Cavaliers for tanking. That should be a consequence of their plan, even if it’s the right one. He is a casualty of it. If he shames Cleveland into trading or buying him out, all the better.