Thanks to a number of circumstances, including but not limited to waking up in New Hampshire (I’m from Massachusetts), driving home to find a busted internet connection, Brandon Bass’ new deal, and needing to walk to McDonald’s for internet access so I could work at SB Nation from 12-4 p.m., I’m significantly late on updating the latest Ray Allen rumors. My apologies to everyone. I will give each of you a shot of water if I ever see you at a bar.
Allen met with the Miami Heat today, and the Heat have been showering him with tender love and care since the free agency period opened. Pat Riley flew from Los Angeles to Miami just to be involved with Allen’s meeting. LeBron James posted a picture of Allen rocking a Heat jersey on his Facebook page, Dwyane Wade tweeted that today is a very important day for the Heat, and yes, I want to puke at their public displays of affection, mostly because I’m jealous that one of my favorite players the past five seasons might play for any other team.
The Los Angeles Clippers are most likely out of the Allen sweepstakes after agreeing to contracts with Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups today, but reportedly might still be interested in acquiring Allen via a sign-and-trade for Nick Young (not that the Celtics are very intrigued by that potential swap). That leaves the Heat as Boston’s primary competition (and perhaps its only competition) for Allen’s services.
The Celtics can offer more money than Miami ($6 million per season compared to $3 million), a similar role (though the addition of Jason Terry could decrease Allen’s minutes in Boston), a familiar geographical area and the chance to remain with a club that has (for the most part, though recent reports say Allen and Rajon Rondo have a bit of a rift) made him feel comfortable. If you don’t think Allen respects and loves playing in Boston, re-watch his press conference after dropping Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But the 36-year old is rightfully worried about rejoining the club that seems to include him in 40 billion trade discussions per season, and came perilously close to trading him at least once at this past trade deadline.
Enter Boston’s potential inclusion of a no-trade clause or trade kicker in Allen’s contract, as reported by the Boston Herald. (A trade kicker would give him a significant pay raise if he is dealt.) If Allen was worried about his job security in Boston, the Celtics seem to be saying, he need not be any longer. If he returns to Boston, it will be with a promise that he will not be traded, at least without substantial compensation for his and his family’s troubles.
The Celtics understand two things in their pursuit of Mr. Allen: 1) Even at age 37 and coming off ankle surgery, he’s still likely to be productive because of his work ethic. 2) If they don’t sign him, they won’t be able to use the money on anybody else because of their current salary cap situation. That makes it essentially Allen or a minimum-contract free agent alongside Terry in the second unit’s backcourt (unless the Celtics do execute a sign-and-trade deal for Allen, which is unlikely because the potential returns are weak. Plus, the Heat don’t want to be sending any assets Boston’s way). Obviously, the Celtics would rather have Allen.
By re-signing Bass and Kevin Garnett and likely adding Jeff Green soon, Danny Ainge has left no doubt that his plan is to bring back the same team he expected last season before Green’s heart condition forced him into missing the entire year, then adding extra pieces (Jason Terry and rookies Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph) to make the Celtics even more formidable. Allen is one of the final significant dominoes of Boston’s offseason that has yet to fall. The decision is all his.