According to ESPN Insider Chris Broussard, Cleveland is indeed in the market for the 38-year-old free agent:
And that's a good thing, because the Cavs need him no matter how the James saga plays out. One might wonder why a team would require the services of a player clearly past his prime, but it makes sense from a basketball standpoint since he would be a necessary presence in the locker room.
The key for Cleveland, though, is apparently convincing Allen it's still worth playing at this late juncture of his career, per this intel from BasketballInsiders.com's Alex Kennedy:
It’s great because we get to live in great weather and this is an awesome city to live in, but for the most part, we don’t partake in living in Miami the majority of the year because you are traveling and you’re trying to stay off your feet. I played in Milwaukee, you know; it was cold, you didn’t go outside. I played in Seattle; it rained a lot. So most of the cities in the NBA, at the end of the day, you do the same things consistently throughout. We do have the opportunity to go out and eat at night and be able to enjoy it on off days, but there are so many other things to consider.
Cleveland isn't considered a marquee free-agent destination—unless James decides to land there, of course. Then you can bet any and everyone will be trying to play with him, including Allen.
Casting aside the fantastical "Return of the King" for a second, though: The Cavs have lacked a seasoned guard with true championship pedigree to solidify their backcourt. Jarrett Jack wasn't the answer, evident in that new general manager David Griffin traded him on Wednesday:
Losing is all Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters have known since joining the Cavaliers.
Bringing in Allen would provide Irving with a mentor who's hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy multiple times and knows what it is to be great. Allen is also a lethal three-point shooter—something Cleveland has sorely lacked in recent years.
While Irving can stroke it from distance, he's often had to create his own shot due to a lackluster supporting cast and off-kilter chemistry with Waiters. That Irving and Waiters haven't been able to coexist harmoniously has impeded the Cavs from making any progress.
That's a troubling situation Allen would mend as well. Waiters is being counted on as a 2-guard even though he's undersized and prefers to slash to the rim. There is still room for him to develop, and he could learn a lot from having Allen there to guide him in terms of moving off the ball.
New head coach David Blatt, on the other hand, is known for playing to his players' strengths and has a reputation for being a particularly gifted offensive mind:
If Blatt can get both Waiters and Irving going as scorers, serving as more complementary to each other than as two alphas vying for the most shots, Allen's job will become even easier when he enters the game.
Presuming that the Cavs hold onto No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, he is capable of filling the 2 but is versatile and athletic enough to guard any position on the wing. His raw offensive skill set is just another area where Allen can impart his wisdom. Meanwhile, Wiggins could mask Allen's shortcomings on defense, providing Blatt with more flexibility in his rotation.
BasketballInsiders.com's Steve Kyler weighed in on how Cleveland is pulling no punches in chasing James:
As FoxSports.com's Sam Amico reports, though, there is a plan in place in the event the Cavs can't land James or Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Love:
The dream scenario is obviously for Cleveland to land both James and Allen, but if James can't come back, Allen would be the perfect fit to help push the Cavs in the right direction. The three perimeter cornerstones of the future in Irving, Waiters and Wiggins would benefit greatly from Allen's presence on and off the court.
Perhaps it isn't possible for Allen to come to Cleveland without assurance that James will be there. If Griffin can land Love or another star to team with a young Cavs nucleus bound to break out in 2014-15, though, this may wind up being the best destination for Allen after all.
It appears that Griffin and Co. have Allen as part of their plans, whether James, Love or another big name arrives in free agency or not.
If recruiting Allen is solely for the purposes of luring James, it shouldn't be. The benefits for both sides and the basketball fit are too strong to pass up if James announces he'll take his talents elsewhere—or keep them in South Beach.
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