This might be reading too much into a situation and this might matter only to someone like me. But the more we hear about this move to the bench for Ray Allen, the more layers get peeled back.
"We like it,’’ coach Doc Rivers said before the game about using Allen as a sixth man. "I was trying to tell you, we’ve only talked about this for two years as a staff but we’ve never had anyone to step forward. We’ve always wanted a stronger bench. At least in the last year and a half, we’ve talked about it. And now with Avery [Bradley] and, hopefully, if we can get Mickael [Pietrus] back, it’s phenomenal. You have either guy you can play and use the other guy off the bench. That would be the best-case scenario for us.’’ Allen volunteered for the role but said, "I don’t think it will happen for me to ever get comfortable with these 11-or-so games we’ve got left. None of us are settling into our roles. You adapt the best way you can. "There hasn’t been enough time to understand the consistencies about what our rotations are going to be. You just try to do what you need to do for the team.
Some important things to note and/or speculate on there.
- Doc has been looking for someone to step up and volunteer for the role the last 2 years and nobody has.
- Ray Allen volunteered - he must have either seen what everyone else was seeing or heard what everyone was saying and didn't want to look selfish by holding on to his starting job.
- He did, in fact, hold onto the starting job in his first game back from injury. Just as telling - Doc wasn't about to take it away from him (though he may have had an encouraging conversation or two with him).
- Ray really doesn't want to come off the bench, and isn't sure that Doc's plan has enough time to work itself out.
- Which makes me wonder how unhappy he really is in the role and if he'll look for another team in the offseason - but that's another problem for another day.
Again, you can see the careful line that Doc walks with these proud veterans. I gather that if he came up and told Ray Allen straight out that he was being "benched" then things wouldn't have gone so well. Ray is a pro's pro, but he's also a proud man who thrives on routine and this can't help that routine.
On the other hand, since Doc left it ultimately up to Ray, he allowed for the locker room's team-first mentality to take hold and prompt the change. Doc allowed it to be Ray's idea (sort of) so that very much helps the buy-in process.
So of note: Doc has gotten Kevin Garnett to play center and he's gotten Ray Allen to come off the bench. If he can convince Paul Pierce to not play hero ball with isolations at the end of games then he might just deserve that Coach of the Year Award (again).
Update: Some additional comments from Ray about his role.
“I think my challenge is to be able to compete at a high level every year coming into the season and that means competing for a starting job every opportunity I get,” he said before last night’s game against the 76ers at TD Garden. “That’s my focus. That’s my goal. “If I felt as though I wasn’t playing up to that level, and those standards, then I think there’s going to be a point where I’d have to say it’s time for me to move on."
Again, I think he's saying that if (someday) he can't compete for a starting job then he'll think about retirement but I don't think it is too far a stretch to wonder if he'll consider a different team this offseason if it means a starting spot on a contending team. Chicago anyone? Or Miami even? (Shudder)