Boston Celtics: Was Letting Tony Allen Go Danny Ainge's Biggest Mistake?
The Kendrick Perkins trade is the popular reason as to why the Celtics weren't good enough to win a title this year. Much of the blame for disrupting the chemistry and dynamic of the team has been placed upon the shoulders of Danny Ainge and his decision to deal the defensive stalwart that is Kendrick Perkins.
While there is certainly a note of legitimacy to those who question "the trade," it's not the sole reason as to why the Celtics couldn't get it done in the playoffs. In fact, it might not even be the worst managerial decision Ainge has ever made.
Before the season started, Danny Ainge let swingman and former Celtic reserve Tony Allen leave for the Memphis Grizzlies. The common perception at the time was that the Grizzlies were offering Allen money that the Celtics just weren't comfortable matching. But, that's not the case.
The Celtics initially offered Allen a two-year deal. When Memphis one-upped the C's, offering three years and $9 million to Allen, the Celtics and Ainge hesitated. Eventually, they matched Memphis' offer, but it was too late. Allen was already attached to the idea of playing a larger role with the Grizz, and that was that.
As Chris Forsberg of ESPN documented, failing to resign Tony Allen could have been the first sign that banner number 18 wasn't going to be hung in Boston. It's quite logical, actually:
If the Celtics had resigned Allen, they likely wouldn't have brought back swingman Marquis Daniels. If Daniels wasn't on the team, or playing a diminished role behind both Pierce and Allen, the Celtics wouldn't have felt compelled to trade for Jeff Green when Daniels went down with a spinal cord injury. As a result, they would have kept Perkins.
All the "what if?" speculation aside, the Celtics missed Allen much more in the playoffs than they did Perkins. The Celtics didn't struggle to defend the low post, but they did struggle to defend LeBron James and Dwayne Wade in the playoffs. Allen, who has significant experience (and success) guarding LBJ in the postseason, might have put a hamper in the efficient Miami offense.
And, while Allen isn't a proficient offensive player by any means, his presence could have been beneficial to the Celtics' offense, which struggled mightily in the Miami series and was the main reason why the Celtics weren't able to win.
Allen's defensive presence might have eased the minutes and the burden that Paul Pierce had to carry during the season. As a result, Pierce–easily the team's best offensive player–might have been fresher for the playoffs.
The Celtics probably weren't good enough as composed, with or without Kendrick Perkins, to make it to the finals this year. But losing Tony Allen to free agency should be the move that's questioned the most by Celtics fans. TA was truly the one that got away. Who knows how differently things would look if he had stayed a member of the Green?
Dan is a Boston Celtics featured columnist. Follow him on twitter @dantheman_06.
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