- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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When July 1 arrived and Ray Allen officially became an unrestricted free agent, it hit him for the first time that he might not return to Boston. As teams began calling to express interest, he started at least pondering possible destinations and what it meant for him and his family.
Through it all, Allen remained in contact with the Boston front office, along with his former teammates. Before he could even begin to think about a final decision, Celtics coach Doc Rivers announced he'd be returning to the Boston bench and Paul Pierce agreed to re-sign with the team.
From there, the decision ultimately made itself.
Last Wednesday, on the eve of the first day free agents can officially sign with teams, and before LeBron James even made "The Decision," Allen agreed to a two-year, $20 million contract with the Celtics.
Allen officially inked that deal Tuesday in Waltham, Mass.
"LeBron was at center stage of the free-agent frenzy, and as he decided where to go, every other team was waiting -- the ones with salary cap room -- to decide who was second in line and third in line," explained Allen. "I had been talking, obviously, going into the process with the Celtics and [president of basketball operations] Danny Ainge about what was right and what direction the team was going in. We made sure to take care of it early. I didn't want to worry all summer about where I would be and my family."
Allen wouldn't identify the participants, but confirmed he had contact with some of the SuperFriends contingent in Miami about their desire to add him to the mix. But Allen also exchanged text messages with Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and evidently wanted to preserve Boston's Big Three than be a supplementary piece to another team's troika.
Allen dubbed James' decision "the biggest pain in the butt" of the offseason and laughed as he noted he had no plans to phone local TV stations for air time to make his own announcement.
"Put me on phone and give me 15 seconds to say where I'm going," he said
So, with the support of his family, Allen made the decision to stay in Boston, even if it meant accepting a contract in less length and money than he might have found on the open market, particularly if he delayed his decision until most top-tier players were snatched up.
Allen admitted a large factor in his decision was how involved both he and his family are in the region, even outside of basketball. Allen's son, Walker, has juvenile diabetes and his care at Boston's world class hospitals was reason enough to ignore other offers.
"We are so entrenched with this community, the Joselin Center and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation," said Allen, explaining how both he and his wife, Shannon, are on the Joselin's board of trustees. "Walker has appointments every three months, that's really the stalwart of our family, to be sure he has the treatment he needs. If we had to go elsewhere, I'm sure there were good hospitals in other major cities. But to look for a new home, new nurses and doctors -- that is trying on everybody."
But the recruitment process did leave Allen wondering if he had put on a green jersey for the final time.
"July 1st hit and it's kind of a free-for-all," said Allen. "You're talking to so many teams, hearing what they think and how they are going to propose moving into the future with certain players. When you're talking to teams, you're wrapping your mind around what it might be like to be on that team, to be in a certain city, what it's like when you travel there. Yeah, there were times when I didn't think I was coming back."
But he did, and he's ready to now be the one making phone calls to recruit talent to Boston. He acknowledged that losing a player like reserve guard Tony Allen -- a key bench player not only in terms of his defense, but in spelling Pierce and Allen -- is no easy role to fill.
"It's tough to lose Tony," Ray Allen said as the other Allen prepares to ink a reportedly three-year deal in Memphis. "He's one of the great defenders over the last two years. We'll be looking for somebody to definitely defend, and possibly shoot. A guy who can spell Paul and myself with minutes. We'll see if we can get the best person. It might require one of the guys placing a phone call."
Allen didn't care to chat much about the lingering pain from Boston's Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals, simply noting it would, "bother him all summer."
Now he's trying to balance some relaxation with a hectic summer schedule before work resumes on the quest for Banner 18.
"I was on [Martha's] Vineyard for a week, trying to relax," said Allen. "Or semi-relax. It never stops."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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