Ray Allen—yes 41-year-old Ray Allen—is reportedly considering a return to the NBA. Per the Hartford Courant, he’s spoken to the Celtics and Bucks about coming back. Spike Lee is also recruiting him to the Knicks, which would further cement them as the team to beat in 2010. The Clippers can’t be ruled out either, as Allen fits perfectly into the Doc Rivers decision tree. If Allen does come back to Boston, what should we expect from him?
The short answer is not much. Allen hasn’t played since his up-and-down 2013-14 season. It was his only year averaging fewer than 10 points per game, and he played the fewest minutes in his career (not counting lock-out seasons). His athleticism and defense had fallen off pretty severely. However, Allen actually shot pretty well. He made 37.5% of his threes and 42.5% from the corners. That was lower than his usual standards but still better than the league average.
Just playing at 41 would be an impressive feat for Allen. Per Basketball-Reference*, only five players have played in the NBA at age 41. That list includes Bob Cousy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert Parish, Kevin Willis, and Dikembe Mutombo. Cousy, the only guard among them, was only able to play 34 minutes in an ill-fated attempt as a player-coach. Kareem was the only one to play more than 20 minutes per game, and his struggles were well covered at the time.
So overall, not a great track record of success for 41-year-olds in the NBA. But Ray Allen’s work ethic is legendary, and who knows what witchcraft Brad Stevens is capable of. Allen is also sitting at 2,973 made threes, so he could have the added motivation of a Mr. 3000-like quest for a milestone. Regardless, the Celtics remain desperate to find three-point shooting with James Young and R.J. Hunter battling for one of the final roster spots. If he can still knock down threes, then Ray Allen may just have a place on this team.
*The Basketball-Reference cutoff is February 1, so a few more players could qualify if you want to be pedantic about it.