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Following the Celtics Game 7 loss to the Miami Heat, one of the questions raised entering the offseason of the team was the future of Ray Allen. It seemed clear that between possible conflict between himself and Rajon Rondo, as well as his demotion to the bench in favor of Avery Bradley that Allen would seek playing time elsewhere.
Obviously it didn’t come as a shock that Allen left town, but it was difficult to stomach him taking a two-year deal at $3 million per year, when the Celtics reportedly offered twice as much. In the end the future Hall of Fame player decides to take his talents to South Beach, where admittedly he has the best shot at a championship. The wrinkle in Allen’s contract is that he can opt out of the final year after next season.
The opt out Allen has in his contract is interesting. Perhaps Miami will simply resign him to a new contract depending on his performance in his first year there, but if Allen were to hit the open market there would certainly be talk of the Celtics having interest. The question is whether or not Boston would be willing to add him back to the roster and whether or not Allen could have interest.
Realistically, the Miami Heat will be one of the best basketball teams in the entire NBA next year regardless of Allen’s performance. Perhaps he doesn’t gel with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, or fails to receive an adequate number of touches. Maybe without him, the Celtics overcome their Eastern Conference rivals and end up winning the championship. No matter the scenario though, it’s unlikely Allen would have much interest in returning.
While the truth may never clearly surface, clearly he did not enjoy the rise of Bradley as Allen fell from a significant impact starter on the roster upon his joining the team as one of the ‘Big Three’, to a reserve player who could occasionally drain a big shot or be clutch shooting free throws down the stretch. A player who has been demoted on one team to the bench would generally be much happier starting out with a different team on the bench as a key contributor. Even if Allen were to leave Miami after just one year, he wouldn’t want to come back to that same atmosphere.
Additionally, some of the key problems Allen appeared to have on the Celtics roster are almost certainly still going to be around. If Bradley returns to form after his second shoulder surgery, he could be a long-term impact player for the Celtics like Rondo already is. The appeal of returning to play with these same teammates might not suit Allen well.
Assuming the Heat don’t blow up the core of their team, they are likely to remain favorites in the East for years to come. In their two years since assembling their ‘Big Three’, Miami has made the Finals twice, winning the championship this past year. A chance to win and bolster a resume is very significant for a player like Allen, making it hard to picture him having interest playing anywhere else.
At the end of the day though Celtics fans can’t get too caught up in the departure of Ray Allen. The guy took less money for a chance to win, which needs to be respected. Still, it’s difficult to respect someone joining forces with one of the most hated teams in Boston sports today.