Veteran shooting guard Ray Allen's contract will expire when the 2014 NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs comes to a close. He’s still in great shape and contributing for a championship contender, but the soon-to-be 39-year-old has said he’ll contemplate retirement this summer.
“I guess everything [is factored into the decision],” Allen said prior to Thursday’s 107-86 Game 4 loss, per The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn. “It depends on how my body feels. I love the condition I’ve been in over the last couple of years. It’s just a natural progression.”
The NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals is no longer the dominant scorer he was with the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle SuperSonics. Nor is he the All-Star-caliber complement he was during a five-year stint with the Boston Celtics.
Even so, he’s still producing and turning back the clock on occasion with highlight dunks.
The 2013-14 season was the least efficient of Allen’s storied career, but he’s upped his rebounding and three-point shooting numbers in the playoffs.
|Ray Allen's Stats (Regular Season vs. Playoffs)|
He shot the lights out in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers (44.4 percent from downtown), but his scoring spark off the bench hasn’t been enough to overcome dominant play from the Spurs. They lead 3-1 headed back to San Antonio.
Although Allen’s level of play, contract situation, age and basketball mileage all hint toward him calling it a career, we heard the same narrative a year ago.
“I don’t know when I’ll retire,” Allen said in January 2013, per the Racine Journal Times’ Gery Woelfel. “But I’m not going to be that guy who just hangs on. At some point, I can let it go.”
When asked if he’d consider saying his goodbyes after the 2012-13 season, Allen said, “It’s possible, yeah.”
Perhaps 2014 will be the year Allen decides to call it quits, but his decision won’t be rooted to his age.
“I don’t look at this as an age thing for me, it’s never been an age thing,” he said per Washburn. “I always laugh because I see the birthdates of some of the younger guys. They’re born in the ‘90s. In the ‘90s! I was kicking it hard in the ‘90s.”
Allen still has youthful exuberance and an uncanny ability to knock down three-point shots. His leadership in the locker room, however, is what truly sets him apart.
“The younger Heat players also look to Allen for advice and have nicknamed him ‘The Committee.’ When the Heat need a debate decided, they often turn to ‘The Committee’ of one in Allen,” Yahoo Sports’ Marc J. Spears wrote.
Numerous teams around the NBA could use his perimeter shooting and experience, but Allen will have to gauge whether he’s up for another 82-game grind.
He's one of the most respected personalities in the game, which brings on questions as to whether he'd consider transitioning to a coaching job. Both Jason Kidd (Brooklyn Nets) and Derek Fisher (New York Knicks) made that shift immediately after retiring, but Allen doesn't intend to make that career change just yet.
As Basketball Insiders' Alex Kennedy wrote, "While Allen wants to be around his family right now, it’s possible that he could become a head coach down the road once his children are older. It’s something that interests him, and he believes he could be effective on the bench due to his playing experience."
If Miami falls short of a third straight championship—which looks like a real possibility—don’t be surprised if Allen competes for one more year to get the sour taste out of his mouth. As a 10-time All-Star and two-time champion, however, he has nothing left to prove.