Since Ray Allen left behind the halls of the University of Connecticut for the allure of the NBA, he's played for four different franchises. A fifth could soon be on his resume if the Miami Heat don't emerge victorious from their sure-to-be-epic clash with the San Antonio Spurs.
The all-time leader in three-pointers made has never been one to quickly abandon a team. He spent the first six seasons of his career with the Milwaukee Bucks before a midseason trade to the Seattle SuperSonics for Desmond Mason and Gary Payton. After four seasons with the Sonics, Allen moved on to the Boston Celtics, where he won the first championship of his career.
The shooting guard spent five seasons with the C's before joining the Miami Heat. Now he's competing for a second ring in only his first year at South Beach.
It doesn't seem like Allen to leave a team after just one season as a hired gun, yet that's a distinct possibility, as the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn reports via Twitter:
The 2-guard is on the books for $3,229,050 during the 2013-14 campaign with the Heat, but only if he decides to return. Allen ultimately controls his own fate, and he could easily opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent.
He might be able to find more playing time elsewhere, but more money certainly isn't going to be in the cards. Precious few teams will offer Allen anything more than the mid-level exception or a veteran's minimum salary. The teams to give him a bigger contract are likely to be bottom feeders with money to burn.
If there is any motivation for Allen to leave, it will be the minutes he's received in Erik Spoelstra's rotation. After his rookie season, in which he played 30.9 minutes per game, Allen has never been on the court for less than 34 minutes per contest over the course of a season.
Well, until this year.
Given the tread on his tires and the quality of Miami's starters, Allen has only logged 25.8 minutes per game. He was well aware that he'd find himself in that situation when he decided to take his talents to South Beach, but it might be a little disconcerting now that it's actually happening.
The problem with this argument is that Allen hasn't outperformed the expectations associated with his playing time. I talk about this a lot, but it remains valid: There's typically a trade-off between volume and efficiency in professional basketball.
In theory, Allen's level of performance should have increased when his time on the court decreased. The two are usually negatively correlated. However, that's not what happened.
Allen's 14.7 PER is the lowest it's been since his first year in the Association, and it marks the third year in a row that he's declined in that category. That's not what's supposed to be occurring, and it's a fairly clear indication that Allen's PER isn't the only thing in a permanent state of decline; Allen himself is as well.
All of this means that it would be completely illogical for the future Hall of Famer to seek a new home if the Heat win a championship. It's tough to abandon a team right after the euphoric feeling of popping some champagne in the locker room, especially when you know that team gives you the best shot of repeating the feeling the very next year.
When Pat Riley inevitably sits down and talks to Allen after the conclusion of the Finals, the conversation might go something like this:
Allen: "Hey, Pat. I'm thinking about opting out. You guys didn't give me enough playing time."
Riley: "I get that, Ray. But you know what? We gave you a ring, and we couldn't have won the ring without you."
That's where the conversation ends. It's a short one, mostly because it's tough to refute Riley's last hypothetical statement. There is no bigger motivating factor than a championship, and winning one is enough to tip the scales in favor of the Heat.
At the conclusion of their final series of the season, the Heat will have plenty of free agents to pursue, including Chris Andersen.
If they emerge on top of the NBA totem pole for the second season in a row, Allen won't be one of them.
Note: All stats, unless otherwise indicated, come from Basketball-Reference.com.
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