Ray Allen had a better offer from the Boston Celtics, but the chance to play for the defending champions was just too good to pass up. The smooth-shooting guard signed the mid-level exception from the Miami Heat worth a reported $9.5 million over three seasons, half of what the Celtics offered with a two-year, $12 million deal, ESPN.com reported.
The Heat had made Allen their top free-agent priority, and shortly after his signing there was plenty of celebration for the NBA champs.
“#HeatNation please welcome our newest teammate Ray Allen #Wow #JesusShuttlesworth,” LeBron James tweeted Friday night.
The 37-year-old Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers with 2,718, will now turn Miami’s “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh into a “Big Four.” He is expected to add depth to the wing for the Heat, especially with sharpshooter Mike Miller considering back surgery and Wade getting surgery for an ailing knee.
Though Allen himself had surgery to deal with bone spurs in his right ankle, the deal isn’t considered much of a risk for Miami, USA Today reported. Allen is known for taking great care of his body and even at his age is seen as one of the best-conditioned players in the league, the report noted.
Allen had reportedly felt slighted this season when the Celtics put him on the trading block and he lost his starting job to Avery Bradley. The growing lockerroom tension between Allen and point guard Rajon Rondo also contributed to his departure.
In some ways the Celtics can afford to have Allen leave, with Bradley ready to step into his role and free-agent shooting guard Jason Terry already committing to Boston. But Boston owned the Bird rights to Allen, meaning they could have went over the salary cap to sign him and keep both him and Terry in the backcourt. It also hurts Celtics fans to lose the popular Allen to their rival Heat.
James didn’t have any problems with the Heat going after one of the key pieces from their rival Celtics.
“We’re not stealing him,” James told Y! Sports shortly before Allen announced his decision. “He’s unrestricted. He isn’t with nobody, man. Ray is a huge piece out there.
“Who wouldn’t want a dead-eye shooter like that, a complete professional and a champion? He has all the qualities for a team to get over the hump or to compete for a championship each and every year.”
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick apparently knows the feeling for Celtics fans. On Friday night posted the following message on Twitter: “Ray Allen to the Miami Heat
#loaded #finalpiece #notfair lol.” Boston fans likely agree with the “not fair” part.