A splendid summer just got even better for the Miami Heat.
Ray Allen, the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals, is leaving Boston to join the NBA champion.
Allen rejected a two-year, $12 million offer from the Celtics to take a two-year, $6.3 million deal from the Heat – a move that bolsters Miami’s bench and weakens one of its chief Eastern Conference rivals.
The news was broken Friday night by Heat owner Micky Arison, who got a call from team president Pat Riley.
“It’s 2:30 a.m. in London and I was just woken up with great news,” Arison posted on Twitter. “Welcome to the family, No. 20.”
Allen’s agent also confirmed the news. Under NBA rules, Allen cannot sign with the Heat until July 11.
Allen turns 37 on July 20 but shows no sign of diminished skills. He set a career mark by making 44 percent of his three-point attempts two years ago, then topped that by shooting 45 percent on threes this past season, which ranked fourth in the league.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade lobbied Allen to join the Heat in recent days through Twitter, and Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra made a convincing sales pitch to the 10-time All Star during a Thursday meeting at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Allen was very impressed and also felt a comfort level with Heat officials while dining with several of them Thursday night at Il Gabbiano on Biscayne Boulevard – a group including Riley, Spoelstra, CEO Nick Arison, Andy Elisburg and Alonzo Mourning.
Allen flew home to Boston on Friday morning, then made the decision later in the day.
According to Yahoo!, Allen’s decision was significantly influenced by a deteriorating relationship with Boston point guard Rajon Rondo, and also hard feelings about the fact the Celtics nearly traded him to Memphis in February.
LEWIS, CAMBY TO ALSO VISIT
Allen will be Miami’s 12th player under contract, and the Heat isn’t done adding established talent. Veteran forward Rashard Lewis will visit Heat headquarters Sunday and has given indications that he would not necessarily be opposed to accepting a $1.3 million minimum contract from Miami.
The Heat can add players only to minimum contracts because its $3.1 million exception is going to Allen.
Free agent center Marcus Camby, 38, is visiting Heat headquarters on Saturday, but an associate said he is opposed to taking a minimum contract. So for Camby to join the Heat, it likely would require a sign-and-trade with Houston.
Camby, who ranked 16th in the league in rebounding this past season (9.0) and 21st in blocks (1.4), also will visit the Knicks and plans to speak to the Spurs and Mavericks. He originally said he planned to re-sign with Houston, but that’s now considered far less likely.
Regardless of any other moves, Allen’s acquisition makes this free agency period a rousing success.
The Heat wanted to add at least one skilled shooter this summer to help spread the floor for its stars and open driving lanes for James and Wade. In Allen, Miami has landed one of the most lethal marksmen of his era.
Allen, with 2,718 career threes, broke Reggie Miller’s record for most career three-pointers in February 2011 and also holds NBA marks for most three-pointers in a season (269 in 2005-06) and a half (eight, in a game in 2002).
The Heat shot 35.9 percent on three-pointers last season, which ranked 10th in the league.
ALLEN TO BACK UP WADE
The 6-foot-5 Allen, who averaged 14.5 points last season and 20.0 in his career, is expected to back up Wade at shooting guard but also will play considerable minutes alongside Wade when Mario Chalmers is out of the game.
Acquiring shooting was especially important to the Heat this summer because of the precarious status of Mike Miller, who is undergoing two weeks of rehabilitation before doctors determine whether he needs back surgery.
Allen had surgery June 14 to remove bone spurs from his right ankle, an injury that plagued him since mid-March and forced him to miss 15 of the final 20 regular-season games and the first two of Boston’s 20 playoff games.
Limited by the injury, Allen averaged 11.9 points and shot 35 percent on three-pointers in the Celtics’ seven-game Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Heat.
Allen spent his first 6 ½ seasons with Milwaukee, the next 4 ½ with Seattle and last five with Boston, where he won a championship in 2008.
A military child, Allen was born on an Air Force base near Merced, Cal., and also spent time growing up in England, Oklahoma, Germany and South Carolina. He was a first-team All-American in his senior year at the University of Connecticut and was selected fifth in the 1996 draft.
Allen is the only player in NBA history who has made at least seven three-pointers in two Finals games. A career 89.4 percent free-throw shooter, Allen holds the Celtics’ record for consecutive made free throws (72 in 2008-09).
He has acted in two films, including a lead role in the 1998 Spike Lee film, He Got Game.