WALTHAM, Mass. — Most Celtics fans seem to be operating under the assumption that Ray Allen has played his final game for their team. Members of the front office in Miami, among other places, apparently share that assumption.
Allen’s departure from Boston may not be as definite as many believe, however. Several details indicate that the Celtics are still near the top, if not at the top, of Allen’s list of possible free agent destinations.
Allen has been working out at the Celtics’ practice facility as he rehabilitates his right ankle after June 13 surgery, and he has spoken multiple times with Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, Ainge said Wednesday. According to Ainge, Allen is still open to coming back.
“I have had conversations with Ray, not contract-specific but just what his hopes are, what he thinks about our team, would he like to come back and all those types of things,” Ainge said.
“Yeah, I think Ray’s open to coming back,” he added, although he made clear that he did not know that for a fact.
The Celtics cannot begin negotiations with Allen, or any of their impending free agents besides Kevin Garnett, until Sunday. That includes Mickael Pietrus, who has expressed his desire to return, and Jeff Green, who is an unrestricted free agent as a result of the Celtics withdrawing their qualifying offer to him in January.
All indications are that Allen, who made $10 million last season and has a $15 million salary cap hold for 2012-13, will make far less than his 2011-12 salary no matter where he signs. The Heat, who are reportedly interested, would have only the $3 million taxpayer’s exception to offer Allen for up to three years. The Knicks, who also have been connected to Allen, would have to use a midlevel exception as well. Even if the Celtics offer Allen a contract of at least 50 percent of his former salary and he declines, it is not guaranteed that Allen would be able to find a better deal on the open market.
Allen’s days as a Celtic could be finished, but do not assume that he is completely gone just yet.