Could Ray Allen be back with Celtics?
|07.01.12 at 9:25 pm ET|
When the Celtics‘ season ended, the popular perception was that Ray Allen would take his jump shot and find a new home. Allen had lost his starting job at midseason and struggled mightily in the postseason while playing through painful bone spurs.
Yet, all along the Celtics have insisted that they would like to bring Allen back into then fold. Allen still shot a career-high 45 percent from 3-point range while averaging 14.2 points per game and compiling a True Shooting percentage (accounting for 2′s, 3′s and free throws) over 60 percent. It’s the fourth straight season that Allen has broken the 60 percent barrier, something he had accomplished only one other time in his career before coming to Boston.
Allen can do the two things the Celtics are looking for this offseason: shooting and scoring. It’s not a surprise that they have been linked to O.J. Mayo, Jamal Crawford and Jason Terry. A team official insisted on Sunday morning that Allen is still very much in their plans and they hope to not only re-sign him but also add another scorer in free agency.
Allen has drawn interest from other teams — Miami and Memphis, most notably — but the Celtics can trump their bids. It’s been reported that the Grizzlies are offering the mid-level exception for two years worth $5 million annually. The Heat are limited to offering what’s known as the taxpayer mid-level worth $3 million annually. Yahoo! reported on Sunday that Allen will take his time making a decision.
If he does come back at that $6 million annually, the Celtics would be an interesting position. With Garnett and Allen back on board they would have roughly $50 million committed in real money to nine players with Brandon Bass, Jeff Greeen, Mickael Pietrus and Greg Stiemsma still unsigned.
In order to add Allen and another high-caliber scoring guard, they would need to stay below the luxury tax apron, i.e. $4 million above the luxury tax line, which should kick in at around $70 million. If the Celtics want to use the full mid-level exception they have to keep total team salaries below $74 million.
Kevin Garnett was the first domino. His three-year deal for $34 million gets them in range to stay under the tax when all the pieces are in place, but it will still be tight.
GERALD WALLACE SETS THE MARKET
When Brooklyn re-signed forward Gerald Wallace to a four-year, $40 million contract, it set the market for wing forwards. Wallace may be more accomplished than Jeff Green, but he’s also four years older, and one would think Green’s agent, David Falk, would be looking for something similar, if not higher. Falk told SI’s Sam Amick in June that he considered Green to be the No. 1 unrestricted free agent on the market after Deron Williams, which is a stretch but gives an indication of what they’re thinking.
Then there’s Bass, who is said to be looking for something similar, if not higher, to the four-year, $27 million deal Glen Davis received last December. Adding another $17 million to $20 million in contracts would take the Celtics right up to that magical apron line and limit their options.
Of note, only Bass can be included in a sign-and-trade deal. Green is not eligible for that kind of deal as he was not on the roster last season. Staying under the tax also makes trades far easier.
If the Celtics want to bring the band back together, they’ll have to keep that tax line in full view.
STIEMSMA VISITS WOLVES
Greg Stiemsma is a restricted free agent and has already drawn interest from Minnesota, according to his agent, Mike Naiditch. Stiemsma is well behind fellow restricted free agents Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez and JaVale McGee in the pecking order, but if we know anything about free agent centers it’s that they get paid.
The Blazers reportedly will offer Hibbert an offer sheet for a max that would pay him $58 million over four years. Lopez and McGee likely also will be looking at eight-figure deals. The Rockets signed Omer Asik to an offer sheet for a three-year deal worth $25 million.
Just as point of comparison, Asik averaged 3.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Bulls in about 15 minutes a night, while Stiemsma averaged 3 points and 3.2 rebounds in 14 minutes a night. Asik is a dominant rebounder and defender, and while Stiemsma won’t get a deal in that range, he may not be an easy re-sign, either.
Nenad Krstic signed a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow in the offseason, but he reportedly has a buyout for the second year and it appears that he may use it. Veteran coach Ettore Messina told an Italian paper that Krstic and several other high-priced players including Andrei Kirilenko won’t be back with the team this year (via Sportando).
If he decided to return to the NBA, Krstic would be a free agent and able to sign with any team, but the Celtics have retained his Bird rights with a corresponding cap hold of over $8 million. (Note: Krstic cannot be used in a sign-and-trade.)
Krstic had an uneven 24 game-stint with the Celtics in 2011, but he did post better numbers than he had in Oklahoma City and at 29 years old, he still has a lot to offer. In a thin free agent class, he’d attract serious attention.