As I stated in my last article about Joe Johnson, with all the free agency talk being about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, I'm going to mention some of the lesser known players.
Ray Allen is one of those guys.
After helping the Boston Celtics make an improbable run to the NBA Finals, Ray Allen now has to focus his attention on his impending free agency. Come July 1, 2010 he'll have to decide whether or not he wants to return to Boston, or move on. Allen has already stated that he would prefer to re-sign with Boston but the question is, after a bad Game Seven, will the Celtics want to spend the money?
There are a few places that I think make a good match for him, so without further delay let's dive into the teams.
1. Boston Celtics
I start out with Boston because I think they're the most likely option for Allen.
The Celtics have made two runs to the NBA Finals in the last three seasons, and Allen has been a big part of all three.
One issue that could cause Allen to leave is the age of the big three. Are the Celtics really going to put their future on the shoulders of three aging players that struggled at times throughout the Finals?
Another thing Allen must consider is how much longer he he wants to play, and the length of the deal he signs could be a deciding factor in where he lands.
Take the Celtics for instance. Are they going to sign Allen to more than a one or two year deal? The answer to that is no. Other teams that I mention later could be interested in a three-year deal for him.
Overall, both Boston and Allen have interest working out a contract, but there are some major issues that could cause the two sides to part ways.
2. Miami Heat
The Heat have been rumored to have major interest in Allen as well. Dwyane Wade is dedicated to bringing another star to Miami with him, and while Allen isn't one of the big stars he's a player that I'm sure Wade would consider an upgrade.
The lineup for Miami after signing Allen could go two different ways. One way would look like this:
PG: Mario Chalmers/Draft Pick
SG: Dwyane Wade
SF: Ray Allen
PF: Michael Beasley
C: Free Agent Signing???
While the other way would look like this:
PG: Dwyane Wade
SG: Ray Allen
SF: Michael Beasley
PF: Draft Pick/Free Agent Signing
C: Draft Pick/Free Agent Signing
Both look like good options.
The Heat have a lot of holes, but the second lineup would allow them to draft a big man rather than a point guard in the first round.
Overall, I'm not sure if the Heat would give Allen a three-year deal, but I don't think they would rule it out either. I'm sure Jesus Shuttlesworth would love Miami and playing alongside Dwyane Wade is a big draw.
3. Atlanta Hawks
This is one of the more interesting teams and a dark horse in the Ray Allen sweepstakes. With the likelihood of Joe Johnson signing elsewhere, who's going to replace his shooting and scoring in Atlanta?
The answer is they don't have anyone on their roster at this point in time who could step in like that. Allen makes perfect sense and could step in for less money than Johnson and would also free everyone up to play a more team-oriented game.
They would probably offer him a two or three-year deal, and I'm sure Allen wouldn't mind playing alongside the likes of Josh Smith, Al Horford, and the rest of the cast there with the Hawks.
The question is, does Allen harbor any hard feelings from the Celtics/Hawks Playoff series a couple years ago that was very physical? I somehow doubt it, and if he feels like Boston mistreated him in any way by not re-signing him (assuming he isn't re-signed), then going to the Hawks would be one of the best ways to get back at them.
Overall, I wouldn't put Atlanta as the No. 1 or No. 2 option for him, but I do think they could make a run at him.
There are a few other teams out there that I could see being interested in him, but I don't really want to go into too much depth yet because I just don't see the two sides agreeing.
The Chicago Bulls could be an option, as they need a two-guard in Chicago. Other possible destinations include the Knicks and Nets.