The Boston Celtics have to make a decision this offseason on whether or not to bring back a key member of their "Big 3" era next season - Ray Allen.
Allen, who will be a free agent come July, is recovering after surgery to correct his right ankle and will be looking for a new home should Boston not re-sign the three-point marksman. And according to reports, the Knicks and Heat are at the top his list.
If the Celtics don't pan out for Allen, Sports Illustrated's NBA writer Chris Mannix was told that the Knicks and Heat are at the top of his list. But a source very familiar with Allen's situation told ESPNNewYork.com that the Heat, as well as potentially the Clippers, will be more attractive to the five-time All-Star in the offseason because they're top teams that can offer more than the veteran's minimum of $1.4 million. That will likely be the Knicks' spending limit for free agents.
New York, Miami or Los Angeles, will have to be sure he is fully recovered from surgery, and realize they will be adding a player with tons of mileage who will be turning 37 next month. Allen should be raring to go next season and is quite the physical specimen (averaged 14.2 points, 45% from the three-point line, 45% from the field, 91% from the free-throw line in 34 minutes per game this season) but will have to accept a role off the bench wherever he lands next season.
Should he stay in Boston, it is clear this is Rondo's team now and will likely be paired with Avery Bradley in the starting unit. This will push Ray to the bench. Should he land in New York, a possible starting backcourt of Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert would also push Allen to the bench. Same goes with Miami with Dwayne Wade, and Mario Chalmers and with Los Angeles with Chris Paul and Caron Butler.
However, at this stage of Allen's pro-career, a role off the bench would suit him just fine.
The Knicks can definitely use a boost at a reliable three-point threat in the backcourt, the Heat would love to shore up their weak bench with his championship pedigree and give them another offensive weapon aside from their "Big 3," and the Clippers having Allen on the roster will only help fill the void left by Chauncey Billups (injury) as the veteran leader.
Yet in the end, he will give the Celtics a first opportunity to retain his services and would especially return if Kevin Garnett stays with Boston next season.
He would also have to take a pay-cut (whether is be the mini-mid level or a veteran minimum) no matter where he ends up, so that will have to be a huge factor in his decision. But a chance to play for a title either with Miami, Los Angeles, or with Boston could keep New York out of his radar.
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