Former Celtics are playing big roles in the playoffs, did Ainge make a mistake letting them go?

If you've been watching the second round of the NBA playoffs, you may have noticed something.

While the Celtics have gone home for the summer, plenty of their former players are playing crucial roles for teams still in it.

Whether it be Nate Robinson delivering daggers to sink the Heat, Tony Allen playing defense as only Tony Allen can, or Kendrick Perkins getting in a twitter feud with Shaq, former C's are just about everywhere you look in round 2. Of course, that begs the question, why did these players ever leave in the first place? Let's go down the list and see who the Celts cut bait on too soon, and who was let go at just the right time.

Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies

Member of the Celtics from 2004-2010

Left Celtics: Via free agency (3 year, $9.45 million deal)

Good old T.A. Known more for his ill-advised post-whistle dunk that blew out his knee than anything else in his time with Boston, Allen has found a home in Memphis. He signed a 3 year, $9.45 million deal with the Grizz in 2010 and has been one of the best values in basketball. He's made two all-defensive teams in three seasons with Memphis, and is averaging 10.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game in these playoffs. Allen has morphed into a defensive stud who chips in double figure points and 6 boards, all for about $2 million less per season than the Celtics are paying Courtney Lee.


Allen also would have been somewhat handy in both the 2011 and 2012 playoff runs as a 'LeBron stopper', a role he filled admirably as the Celtics topped the Cavs in 2010 (averaging 20 minutes a game in that series as the C's upset Cleveland).

Mistake rating (scale of 1-10): 8

Nate Robinson, Chicago Bulls

Member of the Celtics 2010-11

Left Celtics: Traded with Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a 1st round pick

This one is tough. Robinson was signed as the third string point guard/10th man for Chicago before this season started, but thanks to Derrick Rose's slow healing knee and Kirk Hinrich's propensity to get banged up, has been thrust into a starting role. Crazy Nate has responded with the best run of his career, putting up 18.3 points per game on 50% shooting in 8 playoff games, helping lead a decimated Bulls squad to a first round upset and a Game 1 win in Miami. While the Celts certainly could have used his scoring punch, it's important to remember that Robinson was given up on by the Knicks (traded for Eddie House), C's (benched and then thrown in the Perk deal), Thunder (waived) and Warriors (one season and done) before his renaissance in Chicago. It's been fun to watch, but it's really hard to blame the Celtics for this one considering Nate's track record of both bipolar play and bipolar behavior.

Mistake rating: 4

Kendrick Perkins, Oklahoma City Thunder

Member of the Celtics: 2003-2011

Left Celtics: Traded with Nate Robinson for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic and a 1st round pick

While the last two Celtics are breaking out, Perk is simply breaking down. Stapled to the bench for much of OKC's first round win over the small-ball Rockets (2 PPG, 3.3 RPG in just 15.5 MPG), Perkins has become a bit player for the Thunder.

He's lost both mobility and strength after his 2010 ACL tear and can no longer effectively guard mobile bigs like Marc Gasol (22 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 4 APG on 59% shooting through 2 games of their series). There has been talk of Perkins being amnestied this summer, and considering his $17.5 million price tag for the next two seasons and the Thunder's upcoming luxury tax issues, they would be insane not to cut bait. When you consider the C's got both Jeff Green and a 1st round pick for him (ignore the fact that they chose Fab Melo with it if you can), this is the perfect example of the Celtics cutting bait at the perfect time.

Mistake rating: 1.5

Ray Allen, Miami Heat

Member of the Celtics: 2007-2012

Left Celtics: Via free agency (2 year, $6.3 million deal)

Much like his namesake Tony, Ray Allen left the Celtics via free agency, earning a 2 year, $6.3 million deal on the open market.

However, unlike T.A., whom the Celtics showed no interest in bringing back, Ray was offered more money and a no trade clause by the Celts, but took less money to ring chase in South beach.

In retrospect it's turned out to be a big loss as Allen has continued to knock down big threes for Miami this season (41% from three in the regular season, 44% in the playoffs), while Jason Terry was a big disappointment in Boston. But again, while the loss of Ray stings, this is just not something that can be pinned on Ainge. He made a healthy offer, and Allen took less elsewhere. Not much more you can do.

Mistake rating: 1

Random others

Keyon Dooling, Grizzlies: Couldn't sign with the Celts because he retired this summer after signing a contract with them, and an in season return is prohibited by the CBA. Giving the Grizz 10 decent minutes a night. Mistake rating: 0

Gerald Green, Pacers: I mean we traded him for KG. Not about to lose sleep over him being the 11th man on a playoff team six years later. Mistake rating: -17

Jarvis Varnado, Heat: Sitting on the Heat bench. Didn't play here. Doesn't play there. Mistake rating: -65

Rasheed Wallace, Knicks (kind of): Came out of retirement 3 years later to play 20 games with the Knicks, break his foot, return for one game, and retire again. Still goes to Knicks games in bad looking blazers. Mistake rating: -267

So, to summarize: One huge mistake here in Tony Allen. While Ainge couldn't have predicted Allen's "leap" in Memphis, he had a lockdown perimeter defender who had just played a huge role in stopping LeBron in a playoff series. $3.15 million per year is a bargain for Allen's skill-set, and a definite mistake.

But the rest of the guys? Hard to really put Ainge through the ringer for.

So while it may be frustrating to see all the former Celts contributing while the C's are hanging out at home, it's hard to get too worked up. In other words - sit back, relax, enjoy some playoff basketball and root for David (Nate) to topple Goliath (Ray..ok, LeBron).

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