NBA PM: Ray Allen Set to Leave Celtics?
Ray Allen hasn’t resisted his recent move to the bench, but the recent revelation that he was nearly dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies at the trade deadline and the fact that his own contract is expiring has left him wondering what his future with the Boston Celtics really is.
When asked about the prospect of a one-year deal, Allen seemed hesitant.
“I wouldn’t be surprised,” he told Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. “But I don’t want to go into this season, like I have in past seasons, worrying about whether I was going to be traded or not. At this point we want to ride it out, take this thing to the house, and not have the instability of not knowing whether today or tomorrow something is going to happen.”
For the 36-year-old Allen, who is still in demand because of the scarcity of great shooters at the off-guard position, his decision this summer will be based on security.
“For all of us, you deal with that over the course of your career, but wherever I end up after this summer, that has to be the No. 1 mandate,” Allen explained. “At this time I owe it to my family to be ultimately selfish, because I’ve been a very unselfish team player, and I’ll always do that. But when it comes to myself and my family, I have to make sure that I don’t rock their worlds or put them off kilter in any fashion.”
Allen isn’t just blowing smoke here. He’s gone without an agent in the past and arguably signed at a discount to stay with Boston back in the summer of 2010.
And there will be no shortage of suitors for him next season. The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets all rank in the bottom third in the NBA in terms of 3-point shooting percentage (although it would be tough for any of those clubs to squeeze him onto their books), and the Dallas Mavericks could have cap room for Allen.
Then there are the Chicago Bulls, who have had a revolving door at shooting guard over the past three seasons. And it goes without saying that Allen is familiar with former Celtics assistant and current Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
“Just from what I see around the NBA, there’s a lot of teams that look forward to having me,” Allen told Murphy. “I just want to be somewhere where I’m valued, cherished and I can go out and play.”
He’ll always be valued by Celtics fans, but if president Danny Ainge sees an opportunity to use Boston’s cap space elsewhere, he might do just that. It wouldn’t be a comment on Allen’s ability. It’s just the nature of the beast and that’s something Allen already knows.
Do the Celtics have a bench or not?
Boston’s bench has consistently been among the better defensive second units over the past few years. With the exception of 2008-2009, the Celtics have ranked among the top three teams in the NBA in terms of reserve scoring allowed since 2007-2008.
However, the Celtics’ bench has had its own issues scoring as well. Boston hasn’t ranked higher than 18th in bench scoring since 2004-2005 (that bench unit included Ricky Davis, Al Jefferson, Tony Allen, Kendrick Perkins, Walter McCarty and Jiri Welsch).
And since the beginning of this season coach Doc Rivers has maintained that he wants more production from his reserves, which is one of the reasons he moved Allen to the second unit in favor of defensive ace Avery Bradley.
The question is, will Boston’s bench be good enough to sustain a playoff run now that Allen is a reserve?
“It’s forever evolving,” veteran guard Keyon Dooling told HOOPSWORLD. “We’re a starter dominant team so when you’re a bench player on this particular team you could be in the rotation one minute and out of the rotation one minute, so you have to be prepared every night because you never know when your number’s going to get called.”
There’s no question that the Celtics have been more successful recently. After falling to 15-17 before the All-Star break, the Celtics have gone 22-9.
But Boston hasn’t necessarily been getting more scoring from its second unit during this stretch. What it has been getting is better defense and energy.
“Our record is reflective of that,” Dooling said. “Since the All-Star break, I’m not sure what it is, but that’s obvious.”
The biggest development has been center Greg Stiemsma, who hasn’t scored much since the break (4.1 ppg), but he’s rebounded well (4.1 rpg) and he’s been blocking shots like a madman (2.1 bpg).
“Ever since Chris Wilcox went down, he’s been consistently giving minutes,” Dooling said. “Night in and night out, even with his injuries he’s been able go in and do his job. One of the best shot blocking big men in the league. Quite sure he leads the league in shot blocks per minute.
“He’s doing a great job for us,” Dooling added.
Dooling was almost right. Stiemsma ranks second in the NBA behind Serge Ibaka in blocks per minute.
Still, the question of scoring remains.
With Allen battling a sore ankle in Wednesday’s win over the Orlando Magic, the bench only combined for 14 points. And in the previous game, a 118-110 loss to the Knicks, the Celtics surrendered 55 points to New York’s reserves while Dooling provided Boston’s only bench scoring—two points.
So while it’s encouraging to see the Celtics playing better recently, they’re still susceptible to deeper teams. Unless Allen is healthy and scoring, they’re going to be relying on their veteran starters for long stretches. Boston has made it to the NBA Finals without a prolific second unit before. But as the team gets older, they need more from everyone else because other than Bradley (who is averaging 14.7 points per game this month, mostly as a starter) the scoring just isn’t there.
Check Out: Lakers at Spurs
The 40-23 Los Angles Lakers are finally in playoff form, but that’s the way the 45-16 San Antonio Spurs have looked all season. And now that the Spurs—winners of five straight and eight of their last 10—have added Stephen Jackson and Bo Diaw to their bench, Gregg Popovich has more weapons at his disposal.
There’s a chance these teams could meet in the second round of the playoffs (depending on whether or not the Thunder can get back into the top spot), but that’s inconsequential to tonight’s game. The reason you should watch this one is that both of these teams are good and they’re both playing well. What more do you need than that?
Tip-off is just after 9 p.m. on ESPN.
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