Reports indicate that Ray Allen, a current free agent, has two suitors for his services for next year; the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.
Allen has consistently reiterated his desire to remain in Boston, but the Heat have made it known that he is their number one target now that free agency is underway.
His decision could come down to money. The Heat can only offer him their $3 million exception as their roster is chock full of well-paid stars already. The Celtics have Bird-rights on Allen and could offer him as much as they want.
Allen is not hurting for money, he has been paid $178,037,360 before taxes, over the course of his NBA career, and that doesn't include his endorsement deals. Clearly money is a minimal concern for Allen. However, sports are an ego driven business and there is a pecking order inside of some locker rooms based on salary.
Allen has been paid more than nine million dollars a year to play basketball since 1999 and it will be serious sticker shock to him to take a 70 percent pay cut after 15 seasons of mega money. Each player reacts differently to that situation.
Though the Celtics are unlikely to match the $10 million per year he has made over the past two seasons, they could easily double the Heat's offer and give Allen $6 million per year. That would probably get him signed and certainly would help the Celtics get their budget under control.
But, if it is playing time that Allen seeks, Miami is probably the better option. In Boston he is going to have to compete with Avery Bradley for time on the floor. In Miami, he will probably be the sixth man and would be in line for 25-30 minutes per game.
Bradley is a Texas product who replaced Allen in the Celtics starting lineup partway through the 2011 season. He showed decent scoring touch, but really made a name for himself on defense, shutting down Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook in memorable regular season games.
He dislocated his shoulder and missed out on the second half of the Celtics playoff run, but he is ready to be an NBA starter and Allen will have to be prepared to come off the bench as the primary bench shooter for Boston.
The Celtics may also ask Allen to share some time with E'Twaun Moore as well. Moore is a second year player out of Purdue who appeared in 38 games for the Celtics last year; they may well want him to increase his playing time. Boston has also reportedly reached out to O.J. Mayo, which would indicate that they are planning for a year without Allen.
The Heat also don't seem to have a spot for Allen in the starting rotation with Wade at the shooting guard spot and LeBron James at the swing spot. But the Heat have less young promising players on their bench who could compete for time.
Allen would probably be in direct competition with Mike Miller who plays a similar style. Allen just fits better into the Miami bench than he does the Celtics.
Miami also probably offers him the best chance at one more title before he retires. The Heat are the defending champions and look to be the prohibitive best team in the East, even if Allen were to return to Boston.
The Celtics, with or without Allen are still an old team that is getting older. The Chicago Bulls have become a giant question mark since the injury to Derrick Rose, the Knicks haven't really proven that they are more than potential, and the Pacers, while a good team, were clearly overmatched by the Heat in the second round of the playoffs.
The oddsmakers also are high on the Heat. Bovado, an online sports book, listed the Heat as 11-4 favorites to win the 2013 title when they opened the betting on Friday.
Allen's first and only NBA title came in 2008 with Boston; he has been to the big dance just one other time, when Boston lost to Los Angeles in 2010.
At 36, with a pair of ankles that have been surgically reconstructed several times, the window on Allen's NBA career is closing slowly. If he wants to get another chance at the Larry O'Brien trophy, that chance is in Miami.