In the run-up to free agency, Rivers was optimistic that Allen would return but also admitted he wasn't sure what Allen was thinking. When the news finally came that the player Rivers had once said would be "scary" to lose was going to leave, he was mostly sad.
"I'm just disappointed. He should have stayed," Rivers said Saturday, according to the Boston Globe. "We recruited him just as hard [as Miami]. We talked [after he agreed to a three-year contract with the Heat]. It was a good talk. When a guy makes his mind up, I am not going to try to change it. I respect him for all he did for us, but I thought he should have stayed with us."
Rivers wouldn't get into speculation about why Allen left, including Allen's fragmenting relationship with point guard Rajon Rondo or his feelings toward Celtics management, specifically president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who had looked into trading Allen. Rivers said he would let Allen say why he left, adding, "It doesn't matter what I think."
Rivers did acknowledge, though, that the wooing of Kevin Garnett may have made Allen feel neglected.
"I thought we did [pursue Allen]," Rivers told the Globe. "Danny in particular did exactly what he should have done. Kevin Garnett was our focal point, and he should have been. If that got anyone ruffled, then that's probably too bad. We did everything that we're supposed to do."
Despite his disappointment in Allen leaving, Rivers still praised the star who helped Boston to its long-elusive 17th championship.
"He was great for us when he was here, and that's all we can say for it," Rivers said. "Clearly, we would have liked him to stay with us. But I respect Ray, and that will never go away."
Rivers also told the Boston Herald that he and Allen have talked since Allen decided to go to Miami, and Rivers doesn't expect their relationship to change.