While watching the Celtics regain their major chips over the past week, I personally could not help but find myself wondering what happened to Ray Allen. Not that he has been a huge stud all season long but he certainly has been the backbone of this team throughout the season, playing in all 41 games thus far.
As the only member of the “Big Three” that hasn’t missed a single game this season, Allen has actually been pushed harder than anyone else on the team. Averaging a team high 36.5 (shared with Rajon Rondo – a 23-year-old) minutes per game, the 34-year-old Allen may be the lap dog on this team for a reason.
As the only remaining Free Agent (that matters) following the 2009-2010 season, Allen is very unlikely to be seen in Celtic Green after they earn “Banner 18″… (eh… eh?!). I mean, honestly, he would have to take a serious hometown discount to stay on this club, not that it should matter with the money that he has made in his career.
But I took a look at net year’s payouts back in December in the post “From Dominance to Prominence: Boston’s Four Major Teams in a New Decade“, and this year the Celtics are paying 15 players a total of $84,678,579. They already have $63,326,049 tied up in only eight players for next season. That difference is slightly greater than Ray Allen’s current $19M contract. That doesn’t even take into consideration that almost the entire bench (Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine, Marquise Daniels, Shelden Williams, and Tony Allen) will become free agents as well.
So are the Celtics running him into the ground while they can? Seemingly the answer would be yes as they give the other starters ample rest and take the slightest injury to provide players with extensive down time. All of this while Allen is busting ass playing 36 minutes every game, including several 40+ minute games of late. Keep in mind while you watch these games who will be on this team in the long run and who is becoming a free agent, the answer seems quite clear on who is getting the precautionary view of the team.
As NESN pointed out just yesterday, “With a 3-point percentage of 34.7, Allen is having his worst season ever offensively.” But “the trade buzz is starting to percolate. Ray Allen, a future Hall of Famer, is being thrown out there as a trade chip for names like Monta Ellis and Trevor Ariza.”
Ariza would preferably be passed on, due to his time on the Lakers but then again, that does add insight to the Kobe’s. But Monta Ellis?! C’mon, this kid is the only successful piece left on the Warriors with the departure of Stephen Jackson a couple months ago. But hey, he CAN do this:
And then four more times, by the way:
But, then again, Golden State did just release info that Ellis is injured as well. Ellis signed a six-year, $66M deal with the Warriors prior to the ’08-09 season so he still has four and a half years remaining on that deal.
The first being that there is hope that something can be gotten out of his current contract. With almost $20M in his pocket on this season, the hope is that maybe there is a team out there that will believe that Allen is the missing piece to the puzzle. Certainly, there is much less interest in Allen throughout the league, especially at that price, than previous seasons would have held due to his inconsistent play this season and, at times, in the past couple seasons.
Clearly, the opposing view is that the Celtics should certainly not mess with the most consistent piece (playing-time wise) on this team. Allen has been a fan favorite since his arrival here in Boston and is one of the best locker room guys to lead any team on a day-to-day basis. There is a huge pool of available talent in this upcoming off-season and while the Celtics should only have money to get a second-tier star, they can get someone in there. Maybe the answer to get Marquise Daniels into that starting spot.
But which way of thinking is correct? Is it worth getting rid of the one guy on your team that has remained healthy, has a history of hitting the biggest shots in any given game, and is one of the best free throw shooters in the history of the NBA? Or is it worth keeping him on, letting his contract expire, and hopefully making that spring push for an NBA Championship?
There are certainly a lot of factors here and preferably we would see the other Allen (Tony for those of you who dismiss him on a daily basis as I do) get bumped from this line-up sooner than Sugar Ray. Either way, Ray and the Celtics better hope to get some “swagger” back into the line-up for this next week of games or drastic measures will indeed need to be taken.