Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Heat have made pitches before to players, most notably getting LeBron James and Chris Bosh to join the team. Thursday, the Heat will be back at it trying to convince free agent guard Ray Allen to bring his talents to the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Allen will visit with team officials Thursday and has been the primary target for the Heat’s free agency plans. It’s gotten so big that LeBron James recently tweeted that he really hopes Allen will join him in Miami.
Dwyane Wade got into the action Wednesday when he tweeted, “2morrow is a big day for#HeatNation.”
Allen has other suitors, most notably the Memphis Grizzlies, which offered him the full mid-level exception salary of $5 million per season. But, most NBA pundits believe the pursuit of Allen is a two-team race between the Heat and the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics were the first team to bring Allen into a “Big Three” type setup when he joined up with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. But, the Celtics appear to be moving on from Allen after they signed shooting guard Jason Terry earlier this week. Both Terry and Allen play the same position.
Still, Boston is making a push to sign Allen. They’ve offered him a two-year contract worth $12 million. He would see his minutes greatly reduced in Boston behind Avery Bradley and Jason Terry, who was signed with the full mid-level exception of $5 million per season.
The Heat has the least amount of money to offer Allen. Due to salary cap constraints, the Heat can only offer the mini mid-level exception of $3 million per season. Allen made roughly $10 million last season with the Celtics.
But what the Heat can offer Allen is extended playing time, as one of the top two players off the bench. The Heat likes to play small ball at times and Allen would fit into a lineup playing that way perfectly.
Miami would likely have Allen in the lineup to close out games as well alongside Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, Chris Bosh and LeBron James. Miami would use Allen’s deadly 3-point shooting to help space the floor for LeBron, Wade, and Bosh to attack the rim.
Allen shot a career-high 45 percent from behind the 3-point line last season and he also hits roughly 90 percent of his free throws for his career.
LeBron and Wade both want Allen to join them. The only question left is will Allen choose the instant title contender in Miami or return to Boston for more money and less playing time.