It’s been a tough couple days for Ray Allen, as he has faced a barrage of questions about his future with the team after one unsubstantiated trade rumor. Allen, the consummate professional, has taken all of the inquiries about his future and his role with the team in stride. He spoke to the media at length yesterday after practice, fielding questions about everything from hometown discounts to how he would feel if traded.
Before we go any further, let me just say I hate people asking athletes about taking hometown discounts, especially these days. Ray Allen has made it clear he enjoys Boston a lot and has said repeatedly he would love to retire here. Is there a chance he will take a hometown discount to make this happen? Absolutely. That being said, how can anyone expect him to come out and say that at this point in the final year of his contract, when:
A) It’s common knowledge he is going to have his salary cut in at least half from the 19 million he’s making this year during his next contract.
B) He is a shooter who is having one of his worst seasons ever offensively in pivotal categories (3 pt shooting being one).
With these realities in place, Ray’s agent would probably go crazy if Ray made any kind of further indication that he would be willing to take a hometown discount. The truth is, if Ray’s numbers stay consistent, he is going to have very little leverage in negotiations next year with the C’s or any other team.
He will be 35-year-old shooting guard with his shooting numbers sharply on the decline. Combine this with the hoards of free agents that will undoubtedly hitting the market next year, and it will be hard for Ray to get anything close to a big payday (more than the mid-level exception) if he wants to play for a contender. Given this, the C’s will likely be the team in best position to give him a more reasonable offer since they will have his Bird rights and can offer him more despite being over the cap.
If Ray acknowledged he would be willing to take a discount to stay in Beantown, it would be giving more leverage to the C’s in any negotiations this offseason, as well as potentially fueling public sentiment against him if he goes back on those words. A losing scenario anyway you dice it for the sharpshooter. So for now, let’s lay off the hometown discount stuff. Some thoughts on Ray’s other comments from practice yesterday, after the jump
In the middle of Ray’s media session yesterday, Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald asked a question about Ray accepting a reduced role in future years, whether it be with the C’s or another team. Here is the excerpt of his response in the Herald:
Allen should be a simple re-signing for the Celtics. He wants to return, will play for a contract worth far less than the one he has now, and will embrace a reduced role if asked.
“Have you ever known me to worry about being in the game or playing less minutes?” he said. “I’ve always said I would love to see Tony Allen play more. I would love to see Marquis (Daniels) in there playing more minutes. It means a great deal to this team.
“At this point, what I’m making now, I made a great living throughout my career,” he said. “I know going into next year I won’t make the money I’m making now. I know that.
A classy response by Allen as would be expected. Judging by the way number 20 looked when he fielded the question Ray seemed genuinely perplexed, if not miffed by the suggest he wouldn’t be willing to accept that kind of role. In fact, take a closer look at that response. He wants Tony and Marquis (presumably when healthy) to play more.
I’m not a psychologist, but I feel as if there was an indirect message being sent with those comments. Doc talks all the time about giving Ray and Paul additional rest, but as seen by their minute totals this year, he clearly fails to deliver on those promises, mostly out of necessity to keep the C’s winning despite the plethora of injuries. We have dove into those arguments many times on this website, so no need to go any further here.
I guess the bigger point I’m trying to make here is I think Ray doesn’t think people are realizing just how much he is sacrificing now for this team by playing 36.5 minutes a game as a 34-year-old. Would he accept a reduced role in the future? Of course he would, I think he would gladly take one now if it brought his minutes down to 25-30 a game. That kind of minute reduction would probably go a long way in improving his numbers across the board, which have taken a major hit this year.
Ray has always been in terrific shape and the ultimate player. However, Doc’s tendency to lean on him this year with the rest of the team in turmoil may be a bit too much for the 34 year old to handle this year. The guy is 6th in career minutes out of all active NBA players and 39th overall in career minutes out of all NBA players. This year he has finally shown his first major signs of wear and tear. I plead with you Doc, the second half of this season, listen to Ray and most importantly listen to yourself. Bring Ray’s minutes down. It will only make this team more dangerous come May and June.