Boston Globe NBA writer Gary Washburn caught up with the 34-year-old shooting guard at the end of Friday night's induction ceremony at the Basketball Hall of Fame. After an evening of hearing from two of the game's all-time great guards — Michael Jordan and John Stockton — at the podium, Washburn also made time for a sound bite or two with Allen, a future Hall of Famer in his own right.
"Would you like to stay in Boston?" he was asked.
"Of course, but it will be dealt with in its time," he answered. "My job doesn't change. I gotta go out and do the same things. We get paid to play basketball. We're all in a great situation, so we can't look past this year."
That last sentence is key.
At this point in time, with the Celtics coming off a 62-win season and fully reloaded in hopes of pushing for an 18th title banner, every iota of the team's focus should be on this coming season. It's been a long summer, but the team's training camp is now less than two weeks away. We're not far off from the first game of the Celtics' preseason, a Wednesday night tip-off with the Houston Rockets three weeks from now.
It's almost time for basketball, and we're running out of time to talk business. But in Allen's case, that's OK.
No doubt, the Celtics would love to have Allen back. His shooting touch and stellar team-oriented defense have provided a huge boost to this team over the past two years. But bringing him back after his contract runs out next summer won't be easy — it might be a difficult process to negotiate the right price.
Allen's last contract was a rich one. Allen signed a five-year, $85 million contract extension with the Seattle Supersonics in the summer of 2005, making him one of the highest-paid players in the league. He was 30 then, still lingering in his prime, but his skills haven't deteriorated much since then. He's the kind of player that ages decently well — he's not a slasher, he's a shooter, which is far less taxing on an athlete's body.
Inevitably, Allen is going to want big money to stay in Boston more than another year. He had a career year at 33, and he's showing no signs of slowing.
That's why the Celtics should be careful. They don't want to overpay for a guy nearing the wrong side of his thirties.
Allen will age well, but the Celtics had best avoid the trap of expecting things to go too well. For the next year, the C's should go into "wait and see" mode as they consider the future of their All-Star shooting guard.
If Allen stays healthy for the next year, great. If he's an All-Star again this winter, even better. If he helps lead them to their 18th title, that would be the best. But as Allen ages, those "ifs" keep becoming bigger and bigger. Nothing should be taken for granted.
Allen is set to make $19,776,860 this coming season. He'll probably never see anywhere near that big a paycheck again. But the exact amount that Allen deserves is dependent on how he performs in the contract year ahead.
Is he still worth eight figures? Possibly. It's a very close call. And it's not a call that will be made overnight — nor should it. If Allen's return to Boston is meant to be, it will happen in due time — but until then, the two sides have a year to work out the details.
Let's hope they make the most of it. A championship could hang in the balance.
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