Ray Allen is set to meet with the Miami Heat today and will continue his free agency tour in Los Angeles tomorrow. That schedule might change if the Clippers offer the mid level to Jamal Crawford as they are believed to. Memphis is offering their Mid Level and apparently the T-Wolves are interested (if anyone cares). But I tend to think that this decision is coming down to the Heat and the Celtics, so there's a chance we could get news as early as tonight (though don't count on it).
To review, the Celtics can offer Ray Allen twice as much money annually as the Miami Heat. It should be noted that you have to look at the total deal. We're offering $6M for two years (total of $12M) and Miami is offering 3 years at $3M (total of $9M). So if he decided to take his talents to South Beach, he'd only be leaving $3M on the table, and there's tax benefits to living in Florida as well.
The Heat are putting on a full court press for Allen and LeBron James is specifically taking to twitter to court Ray in any way he can think of. It is going to be a very tempting offer for Allen. He'd have the opportunity to play for a Championship in each of his final 3 years in the league - something the Celtics can hope for but not count on as much as the Heat can. He would likely be coming off the bench (no matter what the Heat say) but he'd still get plenty of minutes and be counted on for his legendary shooting.
So nobody should dismiss the Heat offer out of hand just because they can only offer "half as much" as the Celtics. Still, I can't help but wonder why Ray would take any other job but the one that he's had for the last 5 years.
Some are pointing to an icy relationship with Rajon Rondo. Not sure how much I buy that. Lots of guys on this team have odd personality quirks that make them difficult to get along with. Some just smile more than others. That hasn't stopped them from performing well together. And Ray has been around long enough to know that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. He's played through combustible relationships at every stop and did just fine.
I think the greater motivation is the bi-annual trade rumors Ray is involved in. I'm not sure if "loyalty" is so much a factor as continuity. Ray loves routine and thrives on that comfort level. He has struggled in the past when surrounded by uncertainty. I think the Celtics could go a long way to appeasing him by including either a no-trade clause or one of those trade kickers that would boost his salary in the event of a trade. Kickers make teams less willing to trade with you and it even makes the process of trading technically difficult due to matching salaries.
Beyond that we have to sell Ray on the idea that this team really is going for another title with a reloaded roster that can compete in the next two years. The Jason Terry signing goes a long way toward that end.
Finally, I think we'll have to push the legacy angle. If he goes to Miami, he's a hired gun. A well respected Hall of Famer hired gun, but still. He's already been on three teams and he'll always be respected and appreciated for his title here in 2008, but if he leaves for Miami then he might not get his number retired anywhere (especially since Seattle doesn't have a team to honor him anymore). If he finishes out here, he's almost a lock to have his number join the greats in the rafters.
So which way will he go? Will he chose the warm weather and chase a ring in Miami? Or will choose the security and legacy and ubuntu of staying in Boston? It is his decision and I won't begrudge the man of making it. I'm just clearly rooting for the latter and actively rooting against the former.