The Heat have retooled admirably this summer, doing their best to fill the MVP-sized gap left in their roster by the departed LeBron James. While a player like Josh McRoberts helps their floor spacing, passing and rebounding, and Luol Deng brings a defensive tenacity that was missing in the playoffs, Miami is suddenly lacking a key part of their bench strength in recent years; outside shooting.
Free agent forward Danny Granger can help – if he’s healthy. But Clippers fans know better than to count on Granger at this point in his career.
There’s also a hole at the shooting guard position, one that we’ve previously looked at in detail.
And while there are some options that could fill either gap and a player or two that might be able to resolve both problems, one available free agents would be a perfect fit in Miami.
Walter Ray Allen, Jr., the man who has spent the previous two seasons with the Heat.
Some reports have him committed to Cleveland, presumably to join ex-Miami teammate James to pursue a title with the Cavaliers. Other reports have him retiring all together.
Miami, strangely enough, has yet to be considered a strong candidate. Why is that the case, considering there is no strong evidence indicating that he wouldn’t just re-sign with the Heat? Let’s take a look at the summer so far of the 39-year-old future Hall-of-Famer.
Allen joined James and ex-Heat guard James Jones (who followed LeBron to the Cavs) along with their families for a vacation in the Bahamas. According to Jones, business wasn’t discussed. However likely or unlikely this might be, this is the only confirmed information we have about the trip.
James announced his decision to join Cleveland and immediately rumors surfaced that Allen would be joining him. Weeks later, that still isn’t the case. Meanwhile, shooters like Jones and Mike Miller (another ex-Miami swingman) have signed with the Cavs.
Allen travels to Cleveland, part of an NBA goodwill mission – and one that also happens to include James. Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders indicates that Allen is leaning toward retirement, but that he could join a contender (like Cleveland) in mid-season:
I can say what we’ve been told is Ray is done. But I think that’s far from decided officially. I think he is done for now and comes back in December or January. As for Cavs, who knows, people act like he and LeBron are life long friends. I think the Cavs have as good a shot as anyone.
A day later, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst announces that Allen will seek a full MRI before deciding his future:
Ray Allen told Sina in China he planned to return Thurs. & get MRIs on his legs before making future decision. Numerous teams interested.
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) July 23, 2014
Somehow, this leads to a report that a deal with the Cavs is as good as done, as tweeted by the Boston Globe:
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) July 24, 2014
However, Allen’s representatives immediately shoot down the rumor via Twitter:
The reports that Ray Allen intends to play for the Cavs are unfounded. He has not yet decided if he will play next season or for which team.
— TANDEM (@_tandemse) July 24, 2014
Somehow this led to Miami Herald reporter Barry Jackson saying Miami’s front office doesn’t think the Heat is an option for Allen:
Meanwhile, the Heat believes it’s unlikely Ray Allen will return to the team
So…where does this leave us? Absolutely nowhere.
But this takes us back to all the moves that Heat president Pat Riley has and hasn’t made this summer. Quality shooters have come and gone and Miami seems perfectly content to let these options simply go elsewhere. Perhaps, despite Jackson’s report, Miami does expect Allen to return all along. And, while this is far from evidence of anything, Allen has recently bought a house in South Florida, getting the 11,000 + square foot house for a cool $11 million.
It seems that Allen himself is unsure of what his next move is but, as he explained to Windhorst, it’s important to call the shots one way or another:
“One thing is for certain, to [make a retirement decision] on my terms is the most important thing. Whether that is me retiring, staying here or going somewhere else, it will be on my terms. I’ve made it to this point, and I felt great that I have the choice to make it for myself.”
If the lack of activity is any indicator, then perhaps Miami is the best option for all-time leading 3-point shooter in NBA history.