Ray Allen‘s services are being requested by a minimum of four teams at this point, with a fifth option being retirement. The San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat have all been linked to the 3-point assassin and all provide different, unique benefits. Which option is the best?
Regardless of what team Allen goes to, he’s going to provide great 3-point shooting and the ability to stay calm in the biggest of moments. It can’t be overstated how important having players like that is. Look at past champions and you’re going to see a picture painted with experience — a road paved by disappointment and turmoil — before the team is finally able to get over the hump.
Allen has been down that road, as evidenced by his 171 career playoff games. He didn’t win his first championship until the age of 32 and only made the playoffs four times in his 20′s (he’s made it seven times in his 30′s).
Simply put, the greatest 3-point shooter in NBA history still has something in the tank and can still provide a level of experience and leadership that very few can. Take a look at Allen’s body of work:
No. 5: Miami Heat
This is not meant to be offensive to the Heat, but they’re not going to be legitimate NBA Championship contenders next season. They lost their best player in LeBron James and replaced him with talent that doesn’t come close to making up what their losing in James. The only legitimate reason that Allen would stay in Miami is the fact that he’s become comfortable there.
The 39-year-old guard has played with the Heat the last two seasons and if he is motivated to play one more year, does he really want to move his family or at the very least, be away from his family in order to do so? By sticking with the Heat, he’s giving himself a chance to play one more year while still staying in a place where he’s comfortable.
Likelihood: 5 percent chance
No. 4: Retirement
The two-time NBA champion and 10-time All-Star doesn’t have anything left to prove. He’s played the second most games of any active player (1,300), is the leader in 3-pointers made (2,973) and attempted (7,429) and ranks in the top-50 of all-time in points (24,505, 21st), steals (1,451, 44th) and minutes played (46,344, 11th).
Would anyone blame Allen for hanging it up at this point? There’s got to be significant pull from his family at this point, otherwise he’d have made a decision one way or another. He’ll make the Hall of Fame and will go down as the most prolific 3-point shooter of all-time. I think he could live with that.
Likelihood: 10 percent chance
No. 3: San Antonio Spurs
The idea of a knock-down, ice-in-his-veins shooter like Allen on an offensive juggernaut like the Spurs doesn’t seem fair. They’re not the only team in the league that provides a great spot for a shooter like Allen, but they were so good last season and they’re returning almost everyone from their 2014 championship team.
Adding Allen would fill the hole left by Patty Mills’ shoulder injury, which will see him miss 6-7 months. The fact that Allen is playoff tested and has played for some great coaches in his day make him a natural fit with this veteran club. It’s almost like Allen would become the 2010′s cersion of Robert Horry.
Likelihood: 15 percent chance
No. 2: Los Angeles Clippers
Speaking of familiarity, there’s a strong bond between Doc Rivers and Ray Allen. The Celtics championship team in 2007-08 worked in large part because the players and coaching staff trusted and loved each other so greatly that they were willing to do anything for the betterment of the team.
The Clippers have been looking to add shooting for a while in order to free up the paint for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. They thought J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley were going to be the answer, but it hasn’t played out that way. Adding Allen to play beside Chris Paul in the clutch would cause havoc for opposing defenses.
Likelihood: 20 percent chance
No. 1: Cleveland Cavaliers
What was the reason Allen left his beloved Celtics in the first place? Yep, it was the allure of playing with the best player in the world — LeBron James. Of course, the fact that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were there didn’t hurt, as Allen wanted to be able to have stars surrounding him so that he could focus on what he does best — making clutch jumpers.
The 2014-15 Cavs have James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Add Allen and Anderson Varejao to the mix and you’ve got a tremendous combination of skill, size, speed and shooting ability. I’d put that lineup up against any in the NBA when the game is on the line. Allen knows this — which is why it’s most likely he decides to follow his buddy LeBron up to Ohio.
Likelihood: 50 percent chance