Ray Allen, as he proved in grand fashion during the 2013 NBA Finals, can change the course of the championship picture on the golden arch of his picturesque jumper. The veteran shooting guard remains a hot target among the league's top contenders heading into the fall.
The NBA's all-time leader in three-pointers made remains available for squads searching for an extra offensive boost off the bench. Last season, Allen shot 37.5 percent from the arc, his lowest conversion rate since the 2009-10 season. Yet the 39-year-old remains a desired commodity after firing daggers from deep for nearly two decades.
After the Miami Heat usurped Eastern Conference supremacy from Allen's Boston Celtics, he jumped ship to his old foes. Could a similar move happen again, with Allen moving to a team he stole a championship from with his late-game heroics?
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the San Antonio Spurs are interested in the man who sent a possible series-clinching Game 6 into overtime during their first Finals meeting with Miami.
Allen and Gregg Popovich is a tantalizing pairing, but the reigning champions don't need the three-point specialist the way Miami did. The Spurs already have an aging, former All-Star at shooting guard in Manu Ginobli. They then have plenty of outside shooting in Danny Green and Marco Belinelli. While Belinelli hardly elicits as much name recognition as Jesus Shuttlesworth, he shot a much better 43.0 percent from behind the arc.
Besides, San Antonio isn't the only game in town. Stein added another trio of familiar foes also interested in Allen.
The Clippers have an ace up their sleeve in head coach Doc Rivers, who led Allen on the Boston Celtics for five seasons, one of which ended with the shooting guard hoisting his first NBA title. According to ESPN's Arash Markazi, Rivers wants to reunite.
Offense is hardly Los Angeles' primary concern. Per Basketball-Reference, the Clippers led the league with 112.1 points per 100 possessions. They're better off locating a stronger interior presence to placate Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan off the bench.
The Dallas Mavericks could make some noise in the Western Conference after reacquiring former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, and star Dirk Nowitzki has allowed Mark Cuban to fortify the roster by signing at a substantial bargain.
After losing Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, they could use a veteran scorer off the bench.
Yet the front-runnner remains the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have LeBron James to once again recruit with the promise of championships. Mike Miller and James Jones have already followed him to Cleveland, but the Cavs are still looking for a sixth man behind a frightening starting lineup.
The expected Marion signing gives Cleveland a crucial defensive-minded veteran in the second unit, but James and Co. still have room for another prolific shooter. Although James' new locale is the most plausible of these four landing spots, Allen could still shun them all and hang up his sneakers.
There's no certainty that Allen plays anywhere this season. Stein said Allen could call it quits after an 18-year career.
After losing to the Spurs in their rematch last June, Allen's conversation with ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst made retirement sound very much like a possibility.
"I've had a great career, I'm content with what I've done," Allen said. "It's hard to think past this moment. In the next couple of days I'll think about it and see where my true heart lies."
Last year, he scored below 10 points a game (9.6) for the first time in his career, and he was far from the automatic shooter of years past. Miami also had to hide his decaying defensive ability. They allowed 105.8 points per 100 possessions last season, per Basketball-Reference, but the number rose to 109 with Allen on the court.
He can handle a limited role where he's asked to play 25 minutes a night and plant squatter's rights in the corner, but anything more is asking for too much. But since he's has orchestrated a masterful legacy, the future Hall of Famer will land a prominent role on a championship contender if he wants it.
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