|Source: Allen agrees to return to Boston||07.07.10 at 9:54 pm ET|
WEEI.com has confirmed Ray Allen will return to the Celtics after agreeing to a two-year deal worth $10 million annually, with a player option for the second year. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein first reported the deal on Twitter.
Allen, who turns 35 this month, averaged just over 16 points last season and in the playoffs. He garnered attention from around the league when he hit the free agent market this summer, and was reportedly contacted by LeBron James about playing for a “Dream Team” with him, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
Allen had attested during the NBA finals, however, that he would like to return to the Celtics. His agreement keeps the Big Three intact for another shot at a title after Paul Pierce agreed to a new four-year deal last week.
|Ray Allen’s developing market||07.06.10 at 9:44 am ET|
Now that Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce are back in the fold, the next logical move for Danny Ainge is to work out a contract with Ray Allen. The Celtics want him back. They can offer him the best deal, and Allen has said that he wants to return. But it’s not always that simple.
Allen is being courted by the top tier of free agents, namely LeBron James (Ken Berger of CBSsports.com had the details Monday) and until James makes a decision much of the free agent world is in limbo.
James is said to be unsure of whether he will return to the Cavaliers or take an offer from one of the other teams that is pursuing him — the Knicks, Nets, Bulls and Heat. (It’s safe to assume the Clippers took themselves out of the running, if they were ever a serious option to begin with).
If James does stay in Cleveland, the Cavs would only have the mid-level exception to offer Allen and they also need help in the center department. If James goes elsewhere, those teams would have cap money to spend on supporting players, but they are all basically building teams from scratch and it’s unclear how much of that precious cap room they would be willing to use on Allen.
Both the Knicks and Heat are in desperate need of point guards, while the Nets would have to bring along an expensive power forwards to entice James. The Bulls may be the wild card in this scenario since they have a ready-made team in place for either James or Dwyane Wade, and Allen already has an existing relationship with new coach Tom Thibodeau.
In the end, there may not be a huge deal waiting for Allen when the dust settles, but shooting is always at a premium, and Allen and Mike Miller are the two best shooters available in free agency.
So, the Celtics will wait it out. Because they have Allen’s “Bird rights,” they can go over the cap to re-sign him and don’t have to use the MLE. The key for Ainge isn’t the dollars, however, it’s the years.
Allen will turn 35 this July, and the track record for shooting guards that old is not great. The Celtics are gambling that Allen’s commitment to conditioning will carry him through the latter part of his career and he will be more Reggie Miller than Mitch Richmond, which seems like a decent probability.
A two-year deal would be ideal, but with competition for his services, they may have to go to three. Ainge showed his resolve to bringing the Celtics core back together when he went four years on Pierce’s new contract. If he did go to three for Allen it would allow him to go year-to-year with the veterans as Kevin Garnett‘s contract is up after two more years.
The Celtics won’t be able to be under the cap anytime soon when all this is over, but they may be able to reduce their luxury tax bill, which would also make it easier to continue adding veteran pieces this summer or at the trade deadline. There will also be a new collective bargaining agreement in place after next season, which could significantly alter the NBA landscape.
There is much uncertainty around the NBA these days, but the Celtics’ path is clear. It just may take a few weeks for it to come into sharper focus.
|Report: Doc’s first call to Allen||07.01.10 at 11:53 pm ET|
“I can’t go into who but I can tell you we started at 12:01 last night like everybody else did,” he said. “The first call we called Ray. We sat around and we have these names on the list and we said hey guys our most important guy is Ray. We gotta get Ray back. Paul and Ray. And we already talked to Paul because we could. Ray is a vital part to our basketball team, huge.”
Allen, an unrestricted free agent, will undoubtedly be receiving several phone calls from around the league. According to a recent report in the Miami Herald, LeBron James contacted Allen about playing alongside he, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. Allen stated during the season he would like to return to Boston.
|Barry on D&H: Pierce and Allen have ‘mileage’||at 12:27 pm ET|
ESPN NBA analyst Jon Barry joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday on the first day of the free-agency period in the NBA and discussed the Celtics‘ two biggest free agents, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. He said that both players have some ‘mileage’ on them and that although Boston wants to bring the pair back, it should be cautious before jumping right in and signing each.
‘I know Boston’s a great organization, and I know they want these two guys back,’ Barry said. ‘They’d love to make a run with the same team and see if they can do it again. But you have to use your head and decide whether these guys can get you back to that level.’
Barry also dished on who he thinks has the best shot at LeBron James‘he says it’s the Bulls’and just how bad it would be for Cleveland if it lost its King.
‘They’ll win no more than 28, maybe 30,’ he said. ‘They’ll be devastated. This guy means absolutely everything to this team. It’d be horrendous. Cleveland’s gone through so many hardships throughout the years with all their teams, but nothing can get worse than this. This would absolutely ruin this franchise.’
Some highlights from that interview are below. To hear the interview in its entirety, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Does Doc Rivers coming back help the Celtics have a chance at getting back to where they were halfway through Game 7?
Well, I honestly didn’t think they’d get into Game 7 this year. You saw this team. They were 27-27 in the last 54 games. This is a team that no one thought would have gotten to the finals. I didn’t write them off just because of their championship pedigree and the guys they have on this roster. I think that’s what made it so attractive for Doc to come back that it’s an intriguing group, it’s a different group. I think it’s a really special group that he has there. You think about what they’ve done. They put this together. They got a title in the first year that Garnett and Allen come in. If Kevin Garnett‘s not hurt last year, they have a real good opportunity to win again. Then this year, they have a 13-point lead in the second half of an NBA finals Game 7. You’re talking about a team that was on the cusp of winning three straight NBA titles so I guess to him that’s something attractive to come back and give it one more try.
What is the perception around the league of Paul Pierce?
I would just say aging. Two years ago when they won this thing, he was the best player in the playoffs. He outplayed Kobe Bryant. He outplayed LeBron James. He was the best player in the playoffs bar none. He was unbelievable. Just saw some chinks in the armor this year. He got banged up. He got injured. Looked to me to be a tired player at the end of the season last year. Quite frankly, I’d say Ron Artest outplayed him in Games 6 and 7, which I would have never thought possible. So he’s an aging guy. I think he’s only 31, but he just seems to have a lot of mileage on him. You know, an aging superstar. He’s still a superstar player though. Read the rest of this entry »
|Report: James wooing Allen?||at 12:12 am ET|
Stemming from an original report in the New York Daily News that James reached out to a free agent to join the trio on a ‘Dream Team,’ Jorge Sedano of the Miami Herald writes:
‘I’ve come across a source who has told me that free agent player could be Ray Allen. The source tells me that Allen has spoken to James and his preference is to remain with the Celtics, but that’s predicated on Paul Pierce remaining with the team. The money is not a huge factor. Winning more championships is the most important factor.’
Although the report did not specify which team James was referring to, the rumor mill has been buzzing for weeks about James, Wade, and Bosh signing together with the Heat.
For Allen, who turns 35 in July, he doesn’t just play basketball for the sake of it. He plays to win. But there is more to his free agency than just aligning himself with the hottest megastars for a shot at a title.
Allen likes playing in Boston and believes the C’s could have a chance to win it all next season should they return their core players. The fact that Doc Rivers is returning to the sidelines will also be a draw.
There is an off-the-court side to it as well. Allen’s young son is battling juvenile diabetes. He was hospitalized less than a month ago during the NBA finals. Being in Boston affords Allen the proximity to some of the best diabetic care in the country.
“I’ll deal with that when the time comes, but it’s obvious that I don’t want to be anywhere else,” Allen said of free agency following the Celtics Game 7 loss in the finals.
After the clock struck 12:01am on July 1, the time is here.
|Source: Doc Rivers returns to Celtics||06.30.10 at 1:31 pm ET|
The Herald’s Steve Bulpett was first to report the story.
This is very encouraging news for the Celtics and Danny Ainge as he attempts to bring back the core of the team for another run. The veteran players had all expressed support for Rivers while he took some time to consider his options.
It also allows the Celtics a degree of stability in what has been an eventful few weeks since their loss in Game 7 of the NBA finals against the Lakers.
In addition to Pierce’s decision, Tom Thibodeau was introduced as the head coach of the Bulls ending what had been a very successful three-year relationship between Rivers and his assistant. Also, Kendrick Perkins told reporters Tuesday that he would have surgery to repair a torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament in his right knee and would probably be out until late December or January.
What isn’t known yet is whether Rivers would consider extending his contract beyond next season. But with the start of free agency Thursday, his return eliminates some of the guesswork for potential free agent targets and also increases the likelihood that veteran players who miss out on big contracts would sign with the Celtics.
|What Paul Pierce’s opt out means for the Celtics||06.29.10 at 11:28 pm ET|
As ESPN’s Marc Stein first reported, Paul Pierce will opt out of the final year of his contract, which will make him a free agent on July 1. While Pierce is leaving $21.5 million on the table, he is setting himself up for a longer deal before a new collective bargaining agreement is in place following next season.
The move, while not unexpected, makes Danny Ainge’s life a little more difficult as he attempts to bring back the core of the Celtics team for another run. The Celtics still retain Bird rights on Pierce and Ray Allen, which allows them to go over to the cap to re-sign both of them.
That remains the best course of action for Ainge. Despite their status as free agents, Pierce and Allen are still tied to the Celtics cap in the form of cap holds at around $20 million each until they sign a new deal. The Celtics would have to renounce both players, as well as the remaining six free agents on the roster, in order to get significantly under the cap to pursue free agents.
There is a chance that a team like the Clippers, Nets or Knicks could make a run at Pierce if they fail to sign LeBron James.
The big question on new deals for Pierce, and for Allen, is the length. Ainge would prefer to tie everything back to Kevin Garnett’s contract, which has two years remaining, but he may be forced to go to three, or even four years in Pierce’s case.
Still left to be determined before the start of free agency is whether Doc Rivers will return to coach the team, which may also have an impact on whether Pierce and Allen want to return.