More than two months after the Cleveland Cavaliers reshaped the NBA landscape with the signing of LeBron James, the Cavs appear on the verge of signing one of James’ closest confidantes in the NBA.
Multiple reports Tuesday suggested the Cavs were on the verge of signing veteran sharpshooter Ray Allen, who played with James the past two seasons in Miami and hit a clutch, game-tying 3-pointer in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against San Antonio when the Heat were on the verge of elimination.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Cavs Were Looking at Allen & Mike Miller
ESPN reported in July that the Cavs were eyeing the 39-year-old Allen and fellow veteran Mike Miller — also a former teammate of James — as they were courting James.
Allen, who signed with the Heat prior to the 2012-13 season, hit a game-saving 3-pointer in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals with Miami facing elimination. He helped lead the Boston Celtics to the NBA title in 2008, when Boston eliminated James’ Cleveland team in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
2. Allen & James Are Good Friends
Ethan Skolnick described the “special bond” Allen had with James when the two played together in Miami in a 2013 Palm Beach Post feature.
Though James was Miami’s best player and leading scorer, he revered Allen, who just completed his 19th season in the league after a standout career at UConn.
When James was feeling down after the team’s 27-game winning stream was snapped in 2013, Allen had some advice for James.
James told the Post: (Subscription required.)
He was saying that basically for me, I can’t ever look frustrated or be out of sync or out of whack if something happens on the floor. Because me being a leader on the team, people not only will see a weakness but some guys may also think they can do it as well. Because I can play frustrated, or I can play at times while talking to the refs a little bit more than I should, but other guys always can’t. So I have to always be in tune.
Skolnick, now a reporter for Bleacher Report, tweeted the following Wednesday about Allen:
And, as I tweeted earlier, Ray Allen's priority is continue playing with LeBron James. Wherever.
— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) July 9, 2014
3. The Cavs Need Veteran Leadership & Outside Shooting
The Cavs figure to be loaded with talent, but a lot of that talent is extremely young. Cleveland’s best player other than James is 22-year-old Kyrie Irving, the top pick in the 2011 draft. It has two other Number 1 picks on the roster: 21-year-old Anthony Bennett (2013) and 19-year-old Andrew Wiggins (2014).
Adding Allen, who’s hit more 3-pointers in league history, would add veteran leadership and another outside shooter to compliment Irving and James.
Were Allen to sign with the Cavs, he’d be the oldest player on the roster by almost a decade. Anderson Varajao, 31, is the only player on the roster older than 30. (James, 29, will be the team’s second oldest player when he finalizes his contract.)
4. Allen Is Going to Choose Between Retiring, Staying in Miami & Signing Elsewhere
Here’s what Allen had to say following the Heat’s loss in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, according to ESPN:
One thing is for certain, to [make a decision] on my terms is the most important thing. Whether that is me retiring, staying here or going somewhere else, it will be on my terms. I’ve made it to this point, and I felt great that I have the choice to make it for myself.
5. Allen Would Have to Take a Pay Cut to Go to Cleveland
Allen, who made $3.3 million last year, would likely have to take a pay cut to sign with the Cavs, who are expected to offer James a max contract worth $20.7 million next year.
Allen can likely afford it, though. According to basketball-reference.com, he’s made more than $180 million during his career.