Allen, Lewis ready to help Heat repeat
MIAMI — Ray Allen’s number will most likely never hang above the parquet floor.
That's almost a guarantee after Allen, who had played in Boston for five eventful seasons and helped the Celtics to the 2008 title, bolted to sign with rival Miami as a free agent. But how’s this for a way for Heat president Pat Riley to welcome Allen, whose emotions clearly have been torn, to his new city?
“We hope (Allen) ends his career here, and we hope that we can be the one that hangs his number up in our rafters,’’ Riley said Wednesday, when the Heat signed and introduced Allen and fellow free-agent signee Rashard Lewis as the latest big names in his stable.
Why wouldn’t Riley do that if Allen’s Heat tenure turns out well? He retired Michael Jordan’s No. 23, and he never played a game for Miami.
If Allen’s jersey ever is hoisted to the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena, it wouldn’t be the No. 20 he wore in Boston from 2007-12. It would be the No. 34 he also donned in Milwaukee and Seattle from 1996-2007.
When the shooting guard showed up in Boston, he had to switch numbers because No. 34 belonged to Paul Pierce. Now, he’s going back to that number as he tries to move on from his years with the Celtics.
“No. 20 was great to me,’’ said Allen, a 16-year veteran who turns 37 on July 20. “No. 20 represents a lot of who I am and who I was in Boston. (But) we thought about it (earlier this week). And I called Pat up, and I asked him, ‘Is No. 34 available?’ He said it is available.’’
Of course, it is. Center Eddy Curry wore it underneath his warm-ups last season, and he sure isn’t returning.
And Allen isn’t returning to Boston. It was clear during Wednesday’s news conference he still is coming to grips with that.
"I think that there's a sense of sadness and hurt that I think that the people feel, and we feel that too as a family," Allen, who has four children with wife Shannon and another one from a previous relationship, said when asked about some Boston fans calling him a traitor for going to the rival Heat. "We feel the sense of loss that we'll have not being in that community, and that's understandable."
Allen, who said it doesn’t bother him what some Celtics fans are saying, said many of those close to him in Boston still remain part of his life. But don’t count on Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo being a part of it.
There has been plenty of talk about there being friction between Allen and Rondo, something Allen didn’t deny but said wasn't a factor in his decision to sign with the Heat. The hardest part apparently was leaving behind Boston stars Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
“I haven’t spoken with (Rondo) at all,’’ said Allen, who had lost his starting job to Avery Bradley late last season but said he will have no problem coming off the bench for Miami. “I know when I came down here, I texted Paul and Kevin. Those are the guys I talked with quite a bit over the years, and we shared a lot of similar philosophies …. It is sad to me knowing that I’m not going to be with those guys anymore. But I’m looking forward to what we can do here in this organization, with being a teammate of LeBron (James), being a teammate of Dwyane (Wade), Chris Bosh.’’
Allen obviously believes he’s got a better chance to win a second ring with the defending champions than he does with the aging Celtics. Why else would he have taken half as much money for the next two seasons?
Allen turned down a two-year, $12 million offer from Boston for the most the Heat could offer him, which is the $3.09 million taypayer exception for next season. It’s believed Allen’s deal is for two years plus a player option, which could make the total value $9.69 million over three years.
Meanwhile, Lewis, who recently was bought out of the final $22.1 million on his contract by New Orleans for $13.7 million, signed a two-year, $2.75 million contract. The first year is for the NBA minimum of $1.35 million and the second year a player option for the minimum of $1.4 million.
“At this point in my career, I’ve been on the All-Star team and played 14 years,’’ said Lewis, 32, a forward who helped Orlando to the NBA Finals in 2009 before falling off in recent years, some of it due to injuries. “I’ve made a pretty good amount of money over my career (about $150 million). I feel everybody sets goals over their career. My goal is obviously to win a championship.’’
Allen and Lewis have come to the right place. Allen, who has been named to 10 All-Star Games, and Lewis, who has been to two, join James (eight), Wade (eight) and Bosh (seven) in giving the Heat five players to have been named to a staggering total of 35 All-Star Games.
The signings of Allen and Lewis have made the Heat even bigger favorites to repeat as champions. Riley likes that his team isn’t staying pat, an approach that didn’t work out too well after Miami won the title in 2006 and then was swept out of the first round the next season.
“We got to raise the bar,’’ Riley said. “What we didn’t do back then is we didn’t add people like Ray or Rashard or like last year we added Shane (Battier, following a 2011 Finals loss to Dallas). So probably that was my mistake.’’
Allen and Lewis provide a wealth of experience and nifty shooting. Allen ranks first on the all-time NBA list for 3-pointers made while Lewis, who at 6-foot-10 can play both forward spots, is eighth.
“I already know that you got to double team LeBron, you have to double team D-Wade, you got to double team Chris Bosh and then you think they’re going to leave Ray Allen open?’’ said Lewis, who is good friends with Allen from when the two were Seattle teammates from February 2003 through the 2006-07 season. “You got to leave somebody open.’’
It remains to be seen, though, how much Lewis has left. He claims he’s fully healthy after being bothered by a knee injury last season, when he averaged just 7.8 points in 28 games to drop his career average to 16.1. He then was dealt to the Hornets, who bought him out.
Allen might be four years older than Lewis, but he’s a guy Miami really is counting upon to provide scoring off the bench and help spell starting guard Wade, who slowed down last season at 30 and underwent knee surgery early this week.
“A big role,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of what Allen, who averaged 14.2 points last season and has a career average of 20, will have. “We want to get to a point where we are position-less and we have basketball players out there. Ray absolutely fits that. He’s played multiple positions. But his skill set, his professionalism, as a champion, he fits very well with who we already have here …. We’re thrilled to have him here in the Miami family.’’
Helping lure Allen to the family were James and Wade. Allen said both sent him text messages during the free-agency process, which included Allen visiting Miami last Thursday and making his decision the next day to sign.
“I’m not trying to come here to win on my terms,’’ Allen said. “I’m trying to win on what Coach Spoelstra and Pat Riley need for this team to win another championship.’’
If that happens, it certainly will increase the chances of No. 34 eventually hanging from the rafters of AmericanAirlines Arena.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson