Ray Allen Could Start Trend of Veterans Taking Less Money to Sign With Miami Heat

Ray Allen Could Start Trend of Veterans Taking Less Money to Sign With Miami HeatRay Allen sent the Miami Heat a note that says, “I like you. Do you like me?”

The Heat apparently passed back the note, after checking off the box marked “yes.”

Allen and the Heat like each other, according to a report on Monday, and the news unleashed a torrent of dismay from Boston fans on Twitter. Celtics fans do not want to see their beloved shooting guard in Miami, where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the Heat just sewed up their first title together.

Acquiring Allen would be a no-brainer for the Heat from a strictly basketball standpoint. Until Shane Battier and Mike Miller caught fire late in the playoffs, opponents did not fear Battier, Miller, Mario Chalmers or James Jones, which is why those players were so open so often. (All except Jones heated up at some point.) With Allen helping to spread the floor in the Heat’s small lineups, James would have expansive room to operate in the post or to find holes to drive to the hoop.

The Heat, who will be luxury taxpayers for the foreseeable future, have concerns beyond X’s and O’s, though. Miller is due $5.8 million next season and $6.2 million the season after that, way too much for a player in his condition, even given his clutch shooting. He could be a candidate for the amnesty waiver. Jones has talked of retiring, and Pat Riley probably would not weep in wiping Jones’ $1.5 million contract and 30 percent 3-point shooting in the postseason off the books. Norris Cole probably is better served as a change-of-pace point guard backing up Chalmers than as an off-guard, as he was used at times in the playoffs.

The Heat clearly could benefit from an inexpensive, proven shooter sharing the floor with James, Wade, Bosh and either Battier or Chalmers. The “inexpensive” part might be the rub. Allen probably could get more money or more years on a deal elsewhere, and the collective bargaining agreement allows the Celtics to offer him more money. (It is doubtful, however, that they will push hard for a big, multi-year contract for the soon-to-be 37-year-old.) Even if the Heat amnesty Miller, they would be unable to offer Allen more than the $3 million mini-midlevel exception, due to being over the luxury tax threshold.

Allen, who made $10 million in 2011-12, sacrificed shots for a chance to win a championship with Boston in 2007. He would need to sacrifice cash for a chance to win another one with Miami.

And, if Allen were to join the Heat, do not expect him to be the last veteran to take his talents to South Beach at a discount. Throughout NBA history, would-be or used-to-be stars have sacrificed money or stature to play for championship-caliber squads. Celtics fans, in particular, cannot hem and haw about that without being a little hypocritical.

Until Derrick Rose heals, Kyrie Irving matures or the Pacers figure out who is their main guy, the Eastern Conference could be the Heat’s personal playplace. Steve Nash recognizes this, which is why the two-time league MVP and impending free agent’s name has been connected with the Heat since last season. Amare Stoudemire, who still has three years remaining on his deal with the Knicks, implied his affection for the Heat by sitting courtside in Miami during the Eastern Conference Finals. Other stars, ones who are closer to the end of their contracts than Stoudemire, also have eyes to see that these Heat could be one of the elite teams of all-time. Understandably, they want to be a part of it.

Allen has yet to make his intentions known, so it is uncertain whether he would sacrifice money to have a chance at a ring. But if he does, he probably would not be the only player willing to do so.

Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

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