If you remember, back in November I wrote that it was not time to trade Ray Allen ...yet. Well, I'm happy to report that it is still not time to trade Ray Allen, and in fact, it might never be that time.
The reason I bring this up is because the trade season is starting to pick up steam and there will be no shortage of big names available on the trade market. The only way the Celtics can match salaries to trade for the biggest name guys is to include Ray Allen's expiring salary. I just don't think that is happening.
Don't get me wrong, some of the names available are interesting. Carlos Boozer, Caron Butler, and (depending on who you believe) Chris Paul all might change teams this year. I think if you are Danny Ainge you have to pick up the phone and listen to anything and everything. I just don't think there's any chance that he's going anywhere before this summer.
In addition to being a bigtime shooting threat and one of the big three, there's also the chemistry issue to consider. He's, by all accounts, a fantastic locker room guy and a work ethic leader by example that the younger guys look up to. He's also been a rock in terms of health. He and Perkins are the only starters to play all 32 games this year (Rondo's only missed 1 game).
I think if you remove him from the Celtics, you risk upsetting the fantastic balance this team has. I'm talking about court balance (floor spacing, etc.) and chemistry (you need even-keeled guys around when you've got KG, Sheed, and Perk on your team). He is also part of the core that won Banner 17 and these guys know and trust him because they went into battle with him time and time again. No matter how talented the player is that you might get for Ray, he's going to take time (too much time) to get into the flow.
Maybe trading Ray for a younger player makes more sense in the long term, but not in the short term. Given the short window of Championship opportunities, the short term needs to take priority.
With all that said, there are a few scenarios that I could see Ray getting traded, though they are unlikely based on the complexity of the deals.
Read more after the break (and poll)
1. The team could trade him to a team looking to dump salary and is willing to cut him immediately. Ray would become a free agent and free to sign with the Celtics after 30 days. Of course there's always the chance that he could get a multi-year deal he couldn't refuse from one of our rivals. And there's always the small risk Stern could smell something fishy and hit the team with penalties. So while this option is not impossible, it would clearly be difficult and risky.
2. You always have to leave room for a Godfather type of deal. Say the Raptors get word from Chris Bosh that he positively will be playing in the US next year and they decide to get something for him now. I think they would still wait to try to sign and trade him in the summer, but you never know. Same could be said for Joe Johnson but I can't see Atlanta giving up on JJ in the middle of a strong playoff run. LeBron? Wade? Please, don't even bother. You can debate the merits of getting Chris Paul (and likely having to give up Rondo in a complex deal because of his BYC status) all you want, but I find it hard to believe that would happen either.
So baring the totally unlikely circumstances outlined above, we can most likely count on Ray Allen being a Celtic through June and probably beyond.
Now, if the team were to explore sign-and-trade offers in the offseason, ...well, lets not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?
Update: Also see Zach Lowe's analysis of how Ray makes those around him better.