10 Teams That Are Ideal Landing Spots for Ray Allen to Finish NBA Career
As Ray Allen continues to mull his near-future fate, two outcomes seem most likely: Either he hangs up the Chucks for good, or he signs for one last go-round with a contender—specifically, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
If only the NBA were that predictable.
Even at 39 years old, Allen’s particular skill set (in short: shooting the lights out of the gym) is one that can likely bear at least one or two more years of high-level ball.
Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe has reported Allen is “leaning toward” joining James in Cleveland.
What's more, some of his former teammates are hot on his trail. In a recent interview with ESPN's The Herd (via ESPN.com), Miller all but admitted he and others were attempting to recruit the NBA's all-time leading three-point shooter:
Miller, who agreed to join his good friend James and sign with the Cavs earlier this week, responded "of course," when asked on "The Herd" if he was pitching the Cavs to Allen.
We got James Jones, now we're moving Miami to northeast Ohio...With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless. Now it's about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you've gotta bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes.
Still, it’s possible another suitor—one with money to spare and roles to fill—could emerge as a last-minute option for the 10-time All-Star.
To that end, we’ve cobbled together 10 teams with the best chance of wooing Allen away from James’ considerable orbit.
The criteria: Each team must at least be a playoff shoe-in (or close to it), must have a clear and present need for perimeter depth and—most crucial of all—be able to convince Allen to accept the veteran’s minimum, in the event they’re fresh out of salary-cap exceptions.
But enough blather. Jesus Shuttlesworth needs a home!
Portland Trail Blazers
According to HoopsStats.com, the Portland Trail Blazers registered the fewest raw bench points in each of the last two seasons.
Pretty sure they could use Ray Allen.
For as promising a core as Portland boasts, it remains relatively thin at the wings, with Dorrell Wright (who’s more of a 3 than a 2) and C.J. McCollum (good, but unproven) being the team’s two principle backups.
If Allen’s looking for a solid balance between heavy playing time, legitimate playoff prospects and a peerless basketball fanbase, the Blazers are tough to beat.
Golden State Warriors
After losing Jarrett Jack to the Cavs last summer, Golden State’s bench production fell from 19th in the league all the way to 24th, per HoopsStats. And while the addition of Shaun Livingston is sure to make the second unit hum a little more smoothly, he isn’t in anywhere near the late-shotclock option Jack was.
In Allen, new head coach Steve Kerr would have a second-unit weapon capable of running off many of the same sets reserved for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Coupled with Livingston’s ability to get into the paint, the Warriors could easily bring their bench production back to a respectable level.
How many shooters can one team have? As many as it can get.
Like the two teams mentioned previously, the Chicago Bulls could desperately use some ancillary scoring punch.
Unless you count Jimmy Butler, the Bulls really don’t have a traditional 2-guard anywhere on their roster. That’s not to say Allen would be handed the starting job, of course, but with so little in the way of secondary scoring options beyond Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol (and possibly Doug McDermott), Tom Thibodeau could definitely use the 18-year veteran’s offensive presence.
Spared the burden of being the man at the shooting guard slot—the way Richard Hamilton was a few years back—Allen could stick to doing what he does best: running guys ragged off of screens and canning clean looks from deep.
Oklahoma City Thunder
After losing veteran wing defender and three-point specialist Thabo Sefolosha to the Atlanta Hawks, the Oklahoma City Thunder were quick on the free-agent trigger, nabbing another marksmen, Anthony Morrow, to take the Swissman’s place.
Still, OKC’s guard depth isn’t exactly airtight: Jeremy Lamb has yet to crack consistent rotation minutes and Andre Roberson—for all his freakish athletic ability—isn’t exactly sending defenders quaking in fear with his jumper.
That the Thunder are title ready goes without saying. What they still need, however, is more veteran voices to help steer the ship through the postseason tumult. In that respect, you could certainly do worse than Allen and Kendrick Perkins.
Other teams might’ve made bigger splashes, but none pulled off a more sneaky-great summer overhaul than the Dallas Mavericks.
Between Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Monta Ellis, the Mavs are bound to boast one of the league’s most potent offensive attacks.
But after losing Vince Carter to the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas no longer employs a consistent knockdown shooter from the wing. Enter Allen, who could be plugged seamlessly into Carter’s old role (roughly 25 minutes per game the past two seasons, right around Allen’s average) without the offense missing a beat.
Between the loss of Lance Stephenson and the malignant momentum of last year’s drama-filled collapse, the Indiana Pacers could be ripe for quite the 2014-15 hangover.
Even with Stephenson bolting for the Charlotte Hornets, Indy’s D will remain a top-notch force. It’s at the other end of the ball where head coach Frank Vogel once again stands to be searching for answers.
Given the degree of hatred between the Heat and Pacers these past few years, it seems impossible Allen would even consider taking his talents to Nap City. But given the chance to be an offensive focal point as well as a locker room peacemaker, Allen might at least find the idea worth entertaining.
No team in the NBA attempted more three-balls last season than the Houston Rockets.
That alone makes them a compelling landing spot for our sweet-shooting subject.
Beyond James Harden and Troy Daniels, however, Houston remains surprisingly thin at the 2 spot. As such, Allen would easily command 20-25 minutes per game, not to mention looks aplenty from deep.
After losing Chandler Parsons to the Mavericks and whiffing on James and Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets appear poised to finish as one of the free-agency period’s most disappointing performers. But as Dallas has shown, a few sneaky moves here and there can more than make up for the missed home run.
Los Angeles Clippers
We’ll go ahead and call this the “semi-retirement option.”
Between J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, C.J. Wilcox and Reggie Bullock, the Los Angeles Clippers’ wing depth is practically bursting at the seems. As such, it’s unclear just how much playing time a 39-year-old Allen would stand to garner.
At the same time, what better way for Allen to dip his toes into the coaching profession than as a player-slash-understudy to former Celtics skipper Doc Rivers? After they brush aside a little disagreement they had a few years back, of course, per Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.
Playing spot minutes for close to $1 million a year under your old coach with a contender based in Southern California? Not a bad way to call it a career, if you ask me.
Still, with three titles to his name and career clock quickly ticking down, Allen doesn’t necessarily have to resort to chasing rings. Being able to keep your family rooted down, playing with familiar faces in a familiar town: These things matter, and they might well wind up being the factors that win out for Allen.
...But you have to admit, four rings sounds pretty good.
In Allen, the Cleveland Cavaliers wouldn’t just be getting one of LeBron’s most trusted sidekicks; they’d have the perfect mentor for hyper-talented (but somewhat troublesome) Dion Waiters.
Someone needs to tell David Blatt to go and purchase a Powerball ticket immediately.
For those who'd chalk up a Cleveland sojourn as cynical legacy-padding, NESN.com’s Ben Watanabe would like to have a word with you:
James doesn’t ‘need’ Allen the way Allen needs James, but that doesn’t mean their partnership is one-sided. Forget Allen’s big shot that saved James and the Heat in the 2013 NBA Finals if you wish. Well before that, Allen made James’ job easier by spreading the floor, opening up driving lanes and, most of all, passing lanes for James. Allen’s mere presence was enough to give James the millimeter of space he needed to dominate. Spreading the floor around James was so vital that Heat coach Erik Spoelstra essentially turned All-Star Bosh into a spot-up shooter to create even more floor balance.
The way the source winds are blowing, it seems like Allen to the Cavs will happen sooner than later.
And really, given a chance to be part of one of the most remarkable redemption stories in sports history, why wouldn’t it?