UPDATE: Ray Allen signs with the Miami Heat, click here to read story: bitly link http://bit.ly/M3rcUh
MIAMI, Fla. — The Heat's pursuit of one of the greatest deep shooters in NBA history went deep into Thursday night.
Ray Allen, the 10-time All-Star who has spent the past five seasons with the Boston Celtics, arrived in Miami early Thursday afternoon, met with Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, spent some time in the sun, and then met a larger Heat contingent – one that also included team vice presidents Alonzo Mourning, Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison — at a popular downtown Miami restaurant for dinner.
Originally, Allen was supposed to fly to Los Angeles today to meet with the Clippers but, after the Clippers signed guards Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups and canceled Allen's visit, there was no particular rush.
Now the question is how quickly Allen will come to a decision.
There is no mystery about what the Heat can offer: a three-year contract worth roughly $9.3 million. Even after agreeing to terms with Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry and Brandon Bass, and even while reportedly on the verge of re-signing Jeff Green, the Celtics can offer more. They cannot, however, necessarily offer more playing time than Miami because of a crowded backcourt that includes Terry, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, the young defensive stalwart who supplanted Allen as a starter during the 2011-12 season.
The Heat could have more minutes available, especially after Dwyane Wade, who is 30 and is missing the Olympics to have knee surgery, played with more rests and in shorter stints last season.
Wade and LeBron James have aggressively courted Allen on Twitter, with James even re-tweeting a photo of Allen in a Heat uniform.
While Allen has been the Heat's primary target in free agency, Miami does have a contingency plan, one that includes one of Allen's long-time teammates back in Seattle, Rashard Lewis. A source confirmed an NBA.com report that Lewis, who is a career 38.8 percent three-point shooter, plans to visit the Heat on Saturday.
Lewis played for Washington most recently. The Wizards last month dealt him to New Orleans, which gave him a lucrative buyout. Lewis, who is 32 and had earned $138 million in his career prior to receiving the buyout, might accept the veteran's minimum of $1.35 million from Miami, but does have other suitors. If Allen does not join the Heat, Riley could offer the mid-level exception to Lewis.
There are few quality power players available at Miami's price points, but the Heat has expressed interest in 38-year-old Marcus Camby, who is still considering a return to Houston.