NBA Free Agency 2012: Why Ray Allen Will Sign with the Miami Heat

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NBA Free Agency 2012: Why Ray Allen Will Sign with the Miami Heat
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Is it humanly possible to dislike Ray Allen?

Currently, Allen is one of the most likeable players in the NBA, but that could all change if he decides to join the polarizing Miami Heat as an unrestricted free agent.

The 36-year-old sharpshooter has seen it all in his 16-year NBA career—he was the clear go-to guy during his time in Milwaukee and Seattle, and he’s been the third scoring option for the past five seasons in Boston. Now an unrestricted free agent, Allen has to decide between signing with the Clippers, returning to the Celtics or joining the Heat for less money in order to chase Championships alongside MVP LeBron James.

(UPDATE: The Clippers have since canceled their visit with Allen, after they signed Jamal Crawford to a four-year contract on Wednesday.)

Ever since the season ended with Chris Bosh giving himself a champagne shower, there has been talk of mutual interest between the Miami Heat and Ray Allen.

This afternoon, a formal meeting between the two sides is said to be taking place to discuss terms on a potential contract.

Yesterday, Dwyane Wade provided basketball enthusiasts a teaser for what may take place this afternoon, when he tweeted “(Tomorrow) is a big day for #HeatNation.” The preview tweet was later retweeted by James, and given that Allen is scheduled to visit Miami on Thursday afternoon, the immediate conclusion drawn by many was that one of the NBA’s good guys would be joining the villainous team that could fittingly be renamed the Miami “Hate.”

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Allen has a lot to think about as a free agent.

Allen is also scheduled to visit the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow afternoon, and an offer is said to still be on the table for him to return to the Celtics for another run. Financially, both teams have more to offer than Miami, but after Jason Terry signed with the Celtics earlier this week, it doesn’t seem likely that Allen will return to Boston in a crowded, aging backcourt.

And despite the Clippers being an up-and-coming team in this league, they may be a couple of pieces—or years—away from being a true threat in the competitive Western Conference.

Allen’s presence would surely help both teams, but the Heat have one thing the others don’t—a hungry team built to run the table for the next few years led by a three-time MVP with two perennial All-Stars at his side.

When the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, LeBron’s triple-double was overshadowed by the sharpshooting of hobbled veteran Mike Miller. Whether Miller is able to return to the court next year or not, the Heat’s biggest need is a reliable shooter capable of giving Miami an offensive surge when the “Big Three” isn’t playing so big.

Miami could use a big-bodied center to improve its rotation alongside Chris Bosh, but the Heat had success going with a smaller lineup by playing Bosh at center and using James and Shane Battier as their forwards.

With a lineup flooded with All-Stars and superior athletes, defenses would be unable to focus on Allen—the wily veteran of the bunch. Despite the fact that Allen is not the athlete he once was, he still remains one of the NBA’s pure three-point shooters.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Allen to Miami could mean more of this for LeBron.

Playing alongside the MVP—coming off a season in which he averaged 27.1points—would normally suggest there aren’t many shots to go around, but that simply isn’t the case with LeBron. Often criticized for being “too unselfish” during crunch time, James is more Magic than Jordan.

He doesn’t care if it’s him or somebody else—James will find the right shot, and Allen would be a direct beneficiary of LeBron’s unselfish nature.

As was the case when James and Bosh signed with Miami, Allen could earn more money if he signs elsewhere, but the overriding factor still remains—winning.

At this point of his career, Allen has made his money. A couple more rings would solidify his status among the best players of his generation, whether you like it or not.

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