HANG TIME CAPITAL BUREAU –The Boston Celtics’ hopes of keeping Ray Allen will have to wait a few days.
The 36-year-old free-agent guard will visit the Miami Heat on Thursday and the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, according to a source, and listen to their pitches.
The Heat can only offer Allen their mini mid-level exception that starts at $3.09 million next season, the same exception Miami used last year to sign free-agent forward Shane Battier. The Clippers have their full mid-level available at $5 million. Boston has offered Allen a two-year deal for $12 million.
Miami will no doubt entice Allen with the opportunity to win another ring, as he did in 2008 with the Celtics and as the Heat did this past season. He would be a perfect fit for the Heat, given the team’s success at spacing the floor during the playoffs and The Finals with LeBron James drawing attention in the post. But Allen is still looking for a starting job; he was not happy when he lost his starting spot in Boston to Avery Bradley after suffering an ankle injury that required surgery, and it’s not clear if the Heat would be willing to alter its starting lineup for him.
Mario Chalmers made several major contributions for Miami at the point, as did Battier at small forward, though it’s conceivable Miami could play small next season with Allen or Dwyane Wade seeing time at small forward, with Battier coming off the bench.
The Clippers, who had coveted Allen last season, would likely have a starting job for him. Chauncey Billups started alongside Chris Paul until suffering a season-ending achilles’ tear in February. Randy Foye, an unrestricted free agent himself, started for L.A. at the two most of the rest of the season and in the playoffs.
Boston is hopeful that Allen will want to return after the Celtics were able to reach agreement with Kevin Garnett to come back next season to start a three-year, $34 million deal. The Celtics also are close to re-signing forward Jeff Green, who missed all of last season after heart surgery, and drafted rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo in the first round last week. They have also targeted free agent guard Jason Terry.