How different things look surrounding Ray Allen.
Just a year ago, Allen was considered one of the elite shooters in the game and a crucial part of another title run for the Boston Celtics.
However, after injuries limited Allen's 2012 playoff performance, some have begun to wonder whether or not the once-automatic shooter has enough left in the tank to help another NBA team.
We are going to keep you posted with the latest trade rumors, news, chatter and smoke screens regarding Allen as the free agency period heats up!
BREAKING NEWS: Friday, July 6 -- Joel C. Cordes
ESPN is reporting that Ray Allen has accepted the Miami Heat's midlevel exception offer and will join the defending champs for the next three seasons.
Heat owner Micky Arison was the first to break the news:
Its 2:30am in London and I was just woken up with great news.Welcome to the family #20!!— Micky Arison (@MickyArison) July 7, 2012
Though the Celtics were offering twice as much money over a two-year contract, they certainly clouded the waters by signing Jason Terry. Loyalty could only go so far, as Allen clearly saw the Avery Bradley and Terry ahead of him on the depth chart.
Despite having the cash land a max-contract player this year, the Celts have yet to make a big splash to solidify them as favorites in the Eastern Conference. Ray Allen apparently felt the Heat could get him that second ring faster than Boston, and he'd play a bigger role in the process.
Update 4: Friday, July 6, 3:50 p.m. EDT — Maxwell Ogden
While the Minnesota Timberwolves may have emerged as a dark-horse in the chase for Ray Allen, it appears as if the favorite has found themselves in a bit of a predicament. As Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reports, Ray Allen's visit to Miami failed to convince him that leaving Boston is indeed the right move.
Ray Allen left Miami without accepting Heat offer, sources say he is torn on whether to leave Celtics: es.pn/NtCT92
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 6, 2012
Regardless of this development, the Miami Heat are the clear favorite. The Boston Celtics have a crowded back court that doesn't offer Allen an adequate amount of playing time, while Minnesota is far from a title contender.
The question is, how long will it take Allen to sign the dotted line?
Update 3: Friday, July 6 — Maxwell Ogden
According to Ric Bucher of ESPN.com, the Ray Allen sweepstakes now has a dark-horse contender. As for how likely it is, Bucher's tweet tells the whole story.
Sources: TWolves are the heretofore unnamed dark-horse team in the Ray Allen Sweepstakes. Dark, though, as in jet-black.— Ric Bucher (@RicBucher) July 6, 2012
This comes on the heels of the Minnesota Timberwolves signing Brandon Roy, who is coming out of a one-year retirement. While Wayne Ellington and Martell Webster are respectable reserves, bringing in a consistently brilliant shooter like Ray Allen is far from comparable.
It also begs the question that Brandon Roy's camp did not want to hear: do the T-Wolves actually believe in the former Washington Huskie?
Update 2: Thursday, July 5—Ethan Norof
Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD has reported Allen is "leaning toward Miami" and joining the Heat.
A return to Boston isn't out of the question for Ray Allen, but sources believe he's leaning toward Miami. He's meeting with the Heat today.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) July 5, 2012
Update: Thursday, July 5—Ethan Norof
Allen told the Herald months ago that he didn’t want to have to sweat out another trade deadline after nearly being moved in the past, and word is the Celts are ready to comply with either a no-trade clause or a trade kicker that would get him a good sized raise in salary if he does get moved.
Clearly, Boston wants Allen back despite the presence of both Jason Terry and Avery Bradley. It's rather intriguing that the C's would be open to the idea of a no-trade clause for Allen.
Update: Tuesday, July 3—Joel C. Cordes
Despite saying all the right things, the Boston Celtics are showing strange love to Ray Allen.
ESPN is reporting the Celtics have lured away Dallas Mavericks' sharpshooter Jason Terry using their full mid-level exception. The $5 million-per-year contract will keep Terry in Beantown for three years, even as he turns 35 before next season.
While that mid-level exception money is used for signing new free agents and thus wasn't earmarked for retaining Allen, it does cloud the waters significantly.
Jason Terry was not signed as Allen's backup. He's been brought aboard to play behind Avery Bradley at the 2 and spot minutes for Rajon Rondo at the point. So where does that leave Allen?
Boston can't possibly think that Allen and Terry could play together in the same backcourt for long stretches. That pairing would get murdered defensively.
While Allen played the good soldier role by coming off the bench in the second half of 2012, he's checking his options for playing time and cash. He might be further buried on the bench if staying in Boston.
By signing Jason Terry, the Celtics may have knocked themselves significantly down the Ray Allen food chain.
Update: Tuesday, July 3—Joel C. Cordes
While the Boston Celtics continue to believe Allen will return, he's using the offseason to weigh all of his options. In fact, Allen is meeting with two of the front-runners today:
Celtics' pursuit of Ray Allen put on hold; Allen to visit Heat on Thursday, LAC on Friday, per source. Story soon on NBA.com.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 3, 2012
As discussed yesterday, few teams are offering starting positions for Allen at this late point in his career. However, the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves and Atlanta Hawks would currently have openings in their lineups.
The Miami Heat can offer the perceived "best chance" at another ring, while the Memphis Grizzlies have openly offered their entire $5 million mid-level exception. The Dallas Mavericks are also a name that has surfaced in the Allen sweepstakes today.
Still, the Boston Celtics are reportedly offering a two-year contract at $12 million, more than anyone else has supposedly made available.
Update: Monday, July 2—Joel C. Cordes
The Miami Heat and Memphis Grizzlies have recently made noise about their desire to add Allen. However, the New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers have also been mentioned as in the mix.
Still, Doc Rivers believes the Boston Celtics have the inside track on retaining their dead-eye shooter, especially now that Kevin Garnett is back in the fold with his three-year, $34 million contract.
Whether it's for monetary, convenience or nostalgia reasons, Allen's fate seems tied with Beantown. There are a lot of teams would would love to have Allen on their bench, but he's at that late-career stage where few are willing/able to lob a ton of money at him.
Because there likely won't be an "offer you can't refuse" for Allen, it would be highly surprising to see him end his career with proverbial "strangers."
The only exception might be that Miami can offer the upper hand on winning another ring. However, any move from Boston to Miami must certainly smack of traitorism among long-time compatriots like Garnett and Paul Pierce.
Update: Sunday, July 1—Stephen Babb
It's not often that 36-year-old three-point specialists generate a flood of free-agent interest, but then again we're talking about Ray Allen here.
The Miami Heat have been presumed something of a front-runner thus far given Allen's opportunity to team up with the reigning champions and play a meaningful role on the court. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, the Heat are pulling out all the stops for Allen—but only a little bit of money, comparatively speaking.
They intend to offer him their $3 million mini-mid-level exception, a chance to win another title and significant playing time as they continue with the plan to play LeBron James as a power forward in the future. Heat players, including James and Dwyane Wade, have been publicly and privately recruiting Allen over the last month.
Meanwhile, ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that the Boston Celtics aren't willing to let Allen go without giving him something to think about:
Source: Celtics willing to double (in terms of $) Heat offer to Ray Allen. Will give 2 years/$12 million. Heat can offer only $3 mill a yr— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2012
Indeed, according to the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, Allen's former team is nothing short of desperate to keep him in the fold.
"We want Ray back in the worst way," Danny Ainge said. "I think Ray knows we're interested in him. I don't know (about the competition) but he very well could (have competition). But we really want Ray back."
While the Phoenix Suns are the only one of Allen's known suitors with the resources to compete with Boston monetarily, that doesn't mean this is a three-horse race. The Memphis Grizzlies have also thrown their hat into the ring, according to Broussard:
Sources confirm Memphis has offered full midlevel to Ray Allen for 2 yrs. Bos willing to pay 2 yrs/$12 mill, tho no offer made yet.— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2012
It goes without saying Allen will have plenty to think about. Though Miami may be his best opportunity to win, it's not as if the Celtics are washed up. The Grizzlies are an up-and-coming young club, and there's no telling what the Suns will look like after their free-agent budget is spent.
And, Allen is almost sure to play a prominent role in any of these scenarios. His release remains one of the quickest in the game, and there's no arguing with his accuracy from beyond the arc.
Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Phoenix Suns will hotly pursue Ray Allen.
If Steve Nash is remaining in Phoenix, one could see there being some intrigue here between the two veteran players.
It seems a long shot for Allen to join a rebuilding team like the Suns sans Nash. Yet, as "Woj" reports, the Suns have more money to offer than the Miami Heat or New York Knicks should Allen be looking anywhere other than Boston.
As of right now, the latest buzz around the league, according to Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD is that Allen is destined to become a member of the NBA champion Miami Heat:
The general consensus around the NBA is that Ray Allen will sign with Miami. "Barring a change, he'll join the Heat," said a league source.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 27, 2012
Miami certainly needs more spot-up shooters, especially given how bad physically Mike Miller looked in the playoffs.
James Jones also could be moving on, leaving Miami with a huge void on the perimeter.
We saw how bad the Heat looked early in the Indiana series when they couldn't shoot the ball.
There is no way they want a repeat performance next year.
Besides, Allen is a winner who offers strong leadership and basketball intelligence.
New York Knicks
Another rumor, leaked by Nick Borges of ESPN, has the Knicks becoming a player:
The Knicks could also have interest in Allen, however they will likely only offer $3.09 million of the non taxpayer exception to avoid a hard cap next season.
The Knicks seem like a decent fit as well, although they have bigger issues and adding another weak defender to a team full of lackadaisical ones probably isn't a recipe for success.
They are young, however, and Allen helps with that.
That being said, the Celtics haven't completely closed the door on the Ray Allen era in Boston, per Greg Payne of ESPN Boston:
As for Allen, Ainge said that he's spoken with the veteran shooting guard and believes Allen is "open" to returning to Boston for another season.
Ainge can't technically discuss a new contract with Allen until Sunday, per NBA rules, but he said he has been able to get a feel for where Allen may be leaning.
"Yeah, I think Ray's open to coming back," Ainge said. "But, listen, I don't know. I won't even get into details with talking to players other than the exit interviews and Ray was getting rehab here, and we've talked. So I have a feel of where his head is, but I'll know more in July."
I think a return trip to Boston is at best a remote possibility.
Ainge is saying all the right things, but he knows how limited Allen was this year, and he probably also wants to make the transition to a more sleek, defensive-minded shooting guard.
All things being equal, I think Allen would prefer to go to a title contender, and Boston just isn't where Miami is right now.