Paul Pierce, Ray Allen Begin Negotiations With Celtics
According to a source close to the situation, negotiations with both Ray Allen and Paul Pierce began Thursday. Yet while it looks as if Pierce is likely to re-sign with the only team he has ever played for, there is some question as to what takes place with Allen.
He will be 35 years old at the start of next season, meaning the Celtics and any other team will likely attempt to secure a short-term deal. According to sources, Miami, New York and Cleveland all have significant interest that could delay the process. Teams officially began negotiating at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday and can't sign deals until July 8.
The Knicks and Heat have more than enough salary cap space to work with, while Allen could sign for no more than the mid-level exception (approximately $5.8 million in the first season) to play with the Cavaliers. But taking that route will take more time, as each of those teams are in the running for LeBron James and other A-list stars and will likely wait until their bigger plans are executed to handle smaller ones. Similarly, Allen will want to know the landscape of any possible destinations before moving forward.
The 14-year veteran earned $19.8 million last season but is certainly looking at a significant pay cut no matter where he lands. As if his age isn't a big enough red flag, his production declined marginally across the board last season and his 16.3 points per game was his lowest total since his rookie season (13.4 points per game in 1996-97).
After his record-setting performance in Game 2 of the NBA Finals in which he hit eight three-pointers, the long-range specialist went cold at the worst of times and unwillingly aided the Lakers' repeat title run. Allen was 19 of 62 in the final four games (30.6 percent) and hit just four of his last 28 three-pointers. It was a sour end to a surprise story, as Allen had been shopped by the Celtics at the February trade deadline only to remain as a key cog for the Celtics, who reached the Finals as a No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
In the aftermath of the Finals loss, Allen said he wanted to return. Yet in a free-agent market that has already seen Joe Johnson offered a six-year, $119 million contract from Atlanta and Darko Milicic score a four-year, $20 million deal, it remains possible that the Knicks or Heat could overpay for Allen if he is a complementary piece to a championship-level puzzle. He said at season's end that he wanted to return, a sentiment that would seem to remain considering coach Doc Rivers has announced that he would return.