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NBA Free Agency: Are Heat Pot-Committed to Ray Allen?

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NBA Free Agency: Are Heat Pot-Committed to Ray Allen?

With all due respect to Rashard Lewis, who is currently spending his free agency deciding between tomatoes or green peppers on his Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, it may be time to accept that the all-or-nothing barometer of success that has become a staple of the Miami Heat's fate looks to be making a guest appearance in free agency.

And this time, instead of a championship, the stakes are Ray Allen or bust.

Consider what is out there as plan B-

Chris Kaman

While Miami has always been a fan of the big man, almost to the point of nearly drafting him over Dwyane Wade with the fifth pick in the 2003 draft, his addition would seem to contradict the team's new small-ball philosophy.

Meanwhile, potential suitors may be priced out by the Indiana Pacers, who are reeling from the eventual loss of Roy Hibbert to the Blazers.

Grant Hill

Like Allen, his track record of professionalism and hard work speaks for itself. Nevertheless, Hill is a career 31 percent shooter from the three-point line who shot 26 percent last year. Ultimately, he stands as a low-risk, low-reward option.

Derek Fisher

Take it for what you will but Fisher stands as the next best free agent Miami could sign beyond Allen.

He brings a championship pedigree, is a reliable three-point shooter and would be an invaluable mentor for the emerging but erratic Norris Cole. Not to mention, for all his noted defensive shortcomings, his reputation of stepping up in big games is exactly what the Heat are looking for.

Marcus Camby

Camby, 38, wants to contend for a title, and thus Miami is one of the teams he is interested in. But would a center whose primary contributions come on the defensive end be of interest to Miami? Or would he ultimately prove to be a bigger clone of what the team already has in Joel Anthony?

Will the Heat's free agency be a bust if they don't sign Ray Allen?

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Rashard Lewis

Last, and certainly least, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel reported yesterday that the Miami Heat have made overtures about Lewis. Riddled by knee problems last season, he shot a woeful 23 percent from the three-point line. If he can be had for the veteran minimum (pause for laughter), this could be perceived as a low-risk, high-reward signing. And yes, there is no doubt Miami's interest in him is more a reflection of their limited options beyond Allen than Lewis' actual value at a bargain price.

Having said that, Ray Allen is scheduled to meet with Heat team officials tomorrow at American Airlines Arena.

And based on the aforementioned list of free agents likely on Miami's radar, tomorrow will be a Game 7 of sorts for Pat Riley and the brain trust of the Heat.

Fortunately, the Heat are considered front-runners along with the Boston Celtics in the bidding war for Allen.

Meanwhile, one can only guess that the Celtics recent addition of Jason Terry has given Miami a favorable edge, as a return to Boston would presumably create a logjam at the shooting guard position.

So, despite how things may look, there may be a ray of light at the end of this tunnel just yet.

Or, a firework if you prefer. 

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