No one knows for sure what's going to happen long-term with the Celtics' superstar shooting guard. Allen is coming off of a superb season in which he shot 41 percent from beyond the three-point arc, and the C's would no doubt love to make him a part of their future.
So far, Allen's service in Boston has not come cheaply. The franchise player of the late Seattle Supersonics signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension with Sonics GM Rick Sund in the summer of 2005, and Allen currently has one season left on that deal at the ungodly rate of $18,776,860. If the Celtics are to win another title in 2010, they're going to pay for it dearly.
But after next summer, the landscape might change.
Word around the rumor mill is that the guard's teenage daughter, Tierra Allen, plans to move in with her father in Wellesley, Mass., and attend Wellesley High School. As a rising junior who excels in high school basketball and volleyball, Tierra wouldn't want to switch schools before her senior year — meaning that if the Allens settle into the Boston area, they likely stay for a while.
But Tierra's father doesn't necessarily have the same bright future that Tierra does. Ray Allen will turn 35 on July 20, 2010, right in the middle of what is expected to be the most active offseason in NBA history. Allen's best years are behind him, and we'll have to wait and see whether Allen is paid like a true member of the Big Three again, or whether he sticks around Boston for a bit of a discount.
When next summer rolls around, the Celtics will have plenty of money already committed to the 2010-11 season. Kevin Garnett will be owed almost $19 million; Paul Pierce, assuming he doesn't opt out of his contract early, will get over $21.5 million himself. The C's will already be spread rather thin, and that's before negotiating with Rajon Rondo, the team's presumed point guard of the future.
So how much is Ray Allen worth to them? Not another $18 mil, that's for sure. The Celtics can only afford to pay one marquee free agent next summer, not two. And if it comes down to a choice between the aging Allen and Rondo, who will be 24 and is rapidly becoming one of the NBA's best point guards, then it's really no contest. If Allen asks for marquee free agent-type money, then so long and thanks for the ring(s).
But there's a chance that Allen will lower his demands. He's certainly still worth eight figures, regardless of his age — he may be a slightly-one dimensional player, but it's a one dimension that ages well. He was never a slashing, driving scorer who risked injuries or put undue wear and tear on his knees. He's a pure spot-up shooter, and that's a skill that he'll take with him to the grave.
Allen is still worth plenty of money, but he's the kind of player who fits best as the second or third option on a championship contender, not as a franchise guy. Allen's shooting ability itself is good, but it's exponentially better when a superstar like Pierce or KG is there to draw the focus of opposing defenses. Allen thrives with good, clean, open looks, and he gets plenty of them in Boston.
If Allen is smart, he'll give the Celtics a coupon for 40 percent off. He's a great player and he deserves the money to match, but there are limits to the Celtics' spending power. Allen's always been a team player, and come next summer, he'll have it in him to respect those limits.
If the Celtics want to win banner No. 18, their best chance is to do it this year. After the summer of 2010, the NBA landscape will change forever, and there's no telling what will happen down the road. But for the Celtics, stability just might be in the team's future. If the price is right.
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