Ray Allen to Miami: A Basketball Move That Makes Natural Basketball Sense
Ray Allen's reported decision to sign with the Miami Heat may be couched in sub-plotted drama, but if we cut through the most obvious sentiment, this is very simply an arrangement between player and team that makes perfect basketball sense. There's no need to overcomplicate matters with a semi-rivalry; Allen was an unrestricted free agent, the Heat were an ideal suitor and both parties have come to an arrangement that helps everyone involved.
For Allen, it makes all the sense in the world to move on from a still-solid Celtics team considering the long-term viability of the Heat. What Boston was able to accomplish last season was remarkable, but contingent on the aging Kevin Garnett having an unbelievable season and the C's making the most out of a limited bench. Those are tough factors to bank on throughout the life of a new deal, and although Boston could offer Allen more money than Miami could, Allen—through his own calculations—placed greater value in playing for a superior team and experiencing some fresh scenery.
He couldn't have picked a better spot; one needs only look at the wide-open opportunities created for Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Mario Chalmers and James Jones to see what awaits Allen, and now that the Heat have a perimeter shooter whom opponents are forced to fear and respect, the dribble-penetrating work of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade becomes that much easier. That's the factor in Allen's decision flying most under the radar; while it's great to have a player like Allen as a highly skilled, overqualified spot-up shooter, his curl routes will do wonders for the more general spacing of Miami's offense and will afford more beneficial opportunities to the Heat's core of stars.
That's the dream for Miami, and exactly what the Heat have targeted with their last three mid-level exceptions. The Heat are limited to improving almost solely through the draft and the MLE, and with the additions of Miller (2010), Battier (2011) and now Allen, the approach is rather clear. Piling salary on salary through cap exceptions makes for a pricey endeavor, but Allen is the perfect offensive complement to a championship roster and should be integrated without impediment of ego or style. Allen—and his teammates—understand his role and function, and the end result should be a glorious marriage of title favorite and shooting decadence.
That's too perfect an arrangement to be reduced to a narrative catalyst; whatever rivalry the Heat and Celtics have can live and breathe on its own, all while Allen changes clubs for reasons that make far more basic and universal sense.
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