In an effort, to piggyback a bit off of Brendan Jackson’s post yesterday, I have decided to take a in-depth look at the potential factors surrounding a Ray Allen extension following this season. After exploring the realities of the situation, I have come up with a few reasons why it would make sense for both parties for this upcoming season not to be Ray’s last in a Celtic uniform, while also exploring the question of how much he will be worth at said juncture. Without further ado though, let’s take a look at why the C’s and Ray need each other in the years to come.
1) Offensive Performance
Instead of droning on and on about Ray’s offensive abilities I will let some numbers from last year do the talking here in showing how crucial Allen has been to the C’s success. Stats from Basketball Reference
True Shooting Percentage: .624 (2nd in league)
2 Point Jumper Shooting Percentage: .487 (2nd in league)
Effective Field Goal Percentage: .575 (5th in league)
Field Goal Percentage: .480 (best in career)
Free Throw Percentage: .952 (2nd in league)
Offensive Rating: 121.7 (5th in league)
Win Shares: 11.0 (8th in league)
Roland Rating: +8.4 (13th in league)
Those are some impressive stats, especially when you realize Allen was the top shooting guard in the NBA for the majority of those rankings. Clearly Ray can be deemed a one dimensional player, but as we can see above, he performs that one dimension quite well, having put together one of the best statistical all around seasons of his career last season. Keep in mind, he did all this without the aid of Kevin Garnett for the final 4 months of the season, and with the support of an inferior team compared to the team’s 2008 championship run. When you take those factors into account, those numbers stand out even more.
Now I don’t expect these numbers to be replicated next season and beyond by Allen, but I also don’t anticipate a sharp drop off that many have been predicting. With some reinforcements in place in the form of Kevin Garnett, Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels off the bench, Allen’s minutes will be going down, helping to keep the 34 year old tank running well into the next decade.
As a Celtics fan, I can’t anticipate how the team will be able to adequately replace his production following next year, with their cap situation as currently constituted. The money will not be there for the team to bring in a big name replacement and seeing how a trade of Allen midseason will not happen barring an unforeseen turn of events, the team’s best option to remain a viable contender would be to bring back Ray for another couple years, at a discounted rate naturally.
This upcoming season, Ray Allen will be in the final year of a 5 year deal which will pay him $19,766,860 over his 2009-10 campaign. That salary will make him the 6th highest paid player in the league for this year. This number may be considered a detriment to Celtics fans but the reality is both parties know Allen will be in line for a large paycut after next year given his age (34) and the league’s economic situation.
The sharpshooter has made over $135 million during the course of his career and likely millions more in various endorsements. Given the fact there hasn’t been too many sightings of him at Foxwoods, I’m willing to bet he still has a large chunk of that change intact through all these years. This probability along with the well documented reality that Allen is loyal individual as well as a class act off the floor makes me feel encouraged about his willingness to take a substantial paycut next year with his pride intact in order to maintain some stability and an opportunity to add to his Championship resume.
3) The Free Agent Market
Though the C’s will not be in good shape to replace a departing Ray Allen via the free agent market, they will be able to offer him as much money as they see fit. Based on Chad Ford’s latest analysis of cap room for teams during the 2010 free agency period, there will only be about 9 teams with more than 10 million dollars in cap room to spend next summer. Out of those teams, there will be few playoff teams with any real cap room with Miami, Atlanta, Houston and potentially Chicago likely being the potential teams in play.
Two of these teams will likely be occupied with keeping their own stars (Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson) making it unlikely they will be looking at throwing big money at a 35 year old Allen to replace them.
Therefore if Ray Allen wants to play for a contender next season, the vast majority of those squads will only be able to offer Allen the mid level exception on the open market (about 6 million dollars).
It would seem quite easy for the C’s to match and surpass that 6 million dollar number, given that it would be nearly a 75% paycut for employee #20. Now there is always the possibility of a sign and trade, but I can’t see the C’s sending Ray away somewhere willingly where he could potentially come back to haunt them. So if Allen does indeed want to continue playing for Championship contender to finish out his career, Boston could be the most appealing option both competitively and financially speaking.
Now, if Ray doesn’t care about playing for a winner and wanted to cash in next offseason with the highest bidder, he will be heading into a crowded and competitive market. It has been well documented how stacked the 2010 free agent class will be. You have the big two of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Another tier right below them with Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer to go along with some strong second tier players like Michael Redd, Jon Salmons just to name a few.
Given the estimated salary cap number for next season coming in at the low-mid 50 million dollar range, there will be a lot of terrific players out there looking for their piece of what will be a small cash pie. Given the plethora of names and talent, I don’t see one of those rebuilding/fringe playoff teams offering Allen a deal that would blow him out of the water given the alternatives out there and the limited cap room they will have.
Wrapping it all up here, it seems to me that both sides make sense for each other past this year. Barring injury or a steep dropoff in production, the C’s would be unable to replace Allen’s offensive firepower, ability in the clutch, and presence to help attract top notch free agents on the relative cheap (see Rasheed Wallace).
From Ray’s perspective, the C’s could offer him what will likely be the best combination of stability, winning, and money he will find out there. From the looks of it, Ray still has a lot left in reserve and takes care of his body quite well. With an improved supporting cast in place in Beantown, I could see him excelling here for a few more years to come and extending the team’s Championship window.
It’s clear though Danny Ainge and ownership will be holding the chips in this scenario and likely will decide on a dollar figure that Allen is worth and stick to it. My question to you guys is what will Ray Allen be worth following this year and will the C’s be willing to pay it? Obviously it’s a bit premature, but given only a slight dropoff in production, would 10 million per year be a fair offer? Less? More? And should the team be focused on bringing him back or instead start the process of getting younger earlier rather than all at once a few years down the line?