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Newsflash: For the first time in NBA history, a player is not only willing, but asking, to stay with a team that may not max out his contract.
Ray Allen wants to retire in Boston. He will take a pay cut and a lesser role on the team in order to do so. Allen has raked in $80 million over the past five years and is playing 36.5 minutes per game this season, so anything less in either category is not going to kill him. (Arguably, playing fewer minutes could make him more effective.) Given that his age is 34 years and rising and his scoring output (15.9 points per game, his fewest since his rookie campaign) is dropping, it isn’t far-fetched to assume that Ray only has a couple more NBA seasons left in him. At this point in his life and career, why wouldn’t he want to stay in Boston?
Ray is at a point in his career where he has the potential to go out on top (or close to it) in Boston. After spending his first 11 years in the NBA with the lackluster Bucks and Sonics (may they rest in peace), Ray found a niche in Boston as a seasoned veteran among other seasoned veterans on a championship team. Based on his recent comments, he seems happy with the team, the organization, and his role in both. He has nothing to gain by suiting up for the Warriors (he’s rumored to be going there), which are bringing up the rear of the Pacific Conference with a 13-31 record.
Then again, where Ray plays is not necessarily Ray’s choice. In the long run, Danny Ainge and the Celtics have to do what’s best for Danny Ainge and the Celtics, no matter how much Ray (or any player, for that matter) begs and pleads. Players get shipped around the league all the time, and while they are often vocal about wanting to leave a team, they are hardly ever vocal about wanting to stay put. By voicing a desire to stay in Boston, Ray is putting the Celtics in a potentially uncomfortable situation.
Boston fans should want to see Ray Allen in Celtic green for the duration of his career. He has been nothing but an asset and a silent assassin in his three years as a Celtic. At the ripe old age of 34, Ray is still among the best pure shooters in the league and he works hard on the defensive end – both of which complement the Celtics’ game plan.
Celtics fans should also want what will be best for the Celtics. It would be exciting to get some young talent (Monta Ellis) to compliment Rondo, especially if Rondo and Ellis could become the face of the franchise once some of the current Celtics (Allen, KG, Pierce, and Wallace) become NBA senior citizens. That might be a few years down the road, but at some point, the Celtics will have to start thinking about the future.
All things considered, the acquisition of Monta Ellis is not worth the loss of Ray Allen. As long as Ray has the desire to continue playing and the humility to know when to call it quits, the Celtics are in a good situation. Boston can get the most out of Ray’s last few years knowing that he is committed to the franchise, and the end his career will clear some cap space and create options to sign someone more appealing than Monta Ellis. In theory, the Celtics owe it to Ray to keep him around. In reality, the NBA is a business, and players are at the mercy of their franchise.
Hopefully theory will prevail.
The easiest, and seemingly best, way to handle this trade rumor is for the Celtics to hold onto Ray Allen with the same grip that Ray Allen is holding onto the Celtics. Ray’s attitude toward, contributions for, and commitment to the Boston Celtics should be honored until he decides to hang up his sneakers for good. Only then should the Celtics concern themselves with trying to replace him.