The night the Celtics were eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Miami Heat, Doc Rivers and Ray Allen were both quick to declare they wanted another shot at a championship run with the C's in 2012.
Doc was quick to put his money where his mouth was, putting pen to paper two days later on a five-year contract extension. Now it appears Allen will follow suit.
Allen opted Tuesday to return to Boston for his fifth season, exercising his $10 million player option for 2011-12. It's no surprise. Allen is a perfect fit with group. He's comfortable, both on the TD Garden floor and off it, where his family has a happy life in suburban Wellesley.
Allen's return means exactly what you'd expect — he, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo and their coach will all be back next spring to make one more run at a championship in 2012. They won't be favored, of course, but they're still going to give it a shot. They've come too far to give up now.
Garnett is also signed through 2012. So is Jermaine O'Neal. The C's also have Pierce under contract through 2014, Rondo through 2015 and Rivers through 2016. The C's will still have a few pieces in place after next summer, but it won't be the same. This is their last chance to win a title as the game's best veteran team. A lot changes next year, when Allen, Garnett and O'Neal may very well all retire together.
Allen may be about to turn 36 next month, but he's still in the best shape of his life. He shot 44.4 percent from 3-point range and 49.1 percent from the field overall last season, both career highs by a considerable margin. He's comfortable in this system in Boston — he likes Rivers as his coach, Rondo as his point guard and Pierce as the first option. Allen gets to be the unsung hero, and the role fits him.
The Celtics' chances of another title in 2012 aren't great, but they're certainly better now with Ray Allen back in the fold. So here goes nothing.
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