Ainge said he was on the phone with Allen's representatives after midnight Saturday and wants the shooting guard to return. "We want Ray back in the worst way," Ainge said. "I think Ray knows we're interested in him. I don't know (about the competition) but he very well could (have competition). But we really want Ray back."
To me, it's important to retain Ray Allen. There are the selfish reasons as a fan: I love watching him play, and I want to see him set the career record for most playoff threes made (he's seven behind Reggie Miller). It just wouldn't seem right to see Paul and KG out there without Ray.
Sentimentality aside, though, there are basketball reasons to keep him here. He stretches the floor like few others can, even at his advanced age. Arguably, there may be some other free agents on the market that are better all-around players. However, those guys cost us a chunk or all of our MLE. Ray doesn't, since we've got his Bird rights.
When weighing out whether you want Ray back, don't view it as Jason Terry vs. Ray Allen. Think of it as Jason Terry vs. Ray Allen + MLE-level player. Having an extra $5 million to play with in free agency could be huge.
EDIT: Jeff and I posted our thoughts on this at the same time. Here's his blurb:
And wsjy's thoughts:
So now it really is up to Ray Allen and what he wants to do. The Celtics are offering him the most money (more than the MLE that the Griz are said to be offering) and a chance to be on a team that (if all plays out right) could be a contender. Ray might believe that the Heat are a better bet at a Championship and he might really be tired of playing with Rondo, but I have to wonder if both of those rumored motivations are a bit overblown.
Ironically, the Celtics lined up all this cap space to use on potential free agents and now the best free agent options we have are ...Garnett and Ray Allen.
So could we be looking at two more years of the same core? Year's 6 and 7 of a 3 year plan? Could be. Stay tuned.
So that's what Ainge meant when he said Ray is "our #1 priority."
"We want Ray back, and we're approaching this as the first thing we have to get done," said the Celtics president of basketball operations."
I guess that's the price of loyalty but in this case, it sounds like the Celtics are being a little more loyal to #20 vs. the hometown discount KG gave the team this time yesterday. With Miami offering the full mini mid-level at $3 million a year and Memphis willing to go the full mid-level at $5 million a year, Danny had to go the extra mil and make it a two year deal.
Many Celtic fans are going to think that's a little too much for the soon-to-be 37-year-old. We could be spending that money on a younger player like O.J. Mayo and Nick Young or less on a vet like Jason Terry and Jamaal Crawford. During this time of year, the prospect of pumping fresh blood into the team sounds exciting. Potential is a cure all for a season lost to injuries and bad luck. Hopes and dreams of #18 can be pinned to what we think can happen. However, the value of consistency shouldn't be overlooked and Ray Allen is the picture of consistency at a position marred by inconsistency. Even the best shooting guards in the league can be streaky, but when Ray's healthy, he's a rock. Ray had bone spur surgery just days after losing Game 7 of the conference finals and should be back to form by training camp. Pessimistic C's fans will remember him struggling through the playoffs but if he can get his ankles right, we could see the Ray Allen from the beginning of last season. He was the only vet to come back in great shape and was shooting over 50% from behind the line and scoring over 20 points regularly.
You have to think that KG took a discount so that Danny could offer Ray a little more. Maybe $6 million per year is a little much, but the idea of teammates acting like teammates on and off the court is priceless and like I've been saying all off-season, can you really see Ray Allen in a different uniform? I can't fathom the idea of him flicking those three fingers in earnest celebration after hitting a corner three in crunch time in Miami red in the Garden.