He gave Miami arguably its greatest moment in professional sports history. Now Ray Allen could be joining LeBron James in Cleveland.
After apparently contemplating retirement for a few weeks, Allen, 39, was considering an offer to join the Cavaliers on Thursday. Former Heat player Mike Miller, who agreed to a deal with the Cavaliers on Tuesday, said on national radio that he was actively recruiting Allen to join former Heat players James, James Jones and himself in Cleveland for a run at an NBA championship next season.
Allen has said he would likely either play with James next season or retire. Either way, he’s not expected to return to Miami.
“We got James Jones, now we’re moving Miami to northeast Ohio,” Miller said on ESPN radio.
Those words will be bitter pills for the Heat and its fans to swallow, especially considering that Miller is such a beloved figure from the team’s golden era. Miller won two championships with the Heat and was a key figure during both title runs. In the end, though, the Heat decided to release Miller only a few weeks after its 2013 championship, using the collective-bargaining agreement’s amnesty clause to wipe Miller’s salary of the books and save millions in luxury taxes last season.
Without Miller, a close friend of James and a key locker-room presence, the Heat muddled through the 2013-14 regular season and then didn’t have enough firepower to compete with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
Heat president Pat Riley later cited Miller’s health history as a reason for releasing such a key piece of the Heat’s championship success, but Miller went on to play all 82 games of the 2013-14 season.
A year removed from his Heat days, Miller is now happily plundering the Heat’s bench to give his new team as many veteran options as possible to complement James and the young core in Cleveland. Like Miller and Jones, Allen would likely come off the bench for the Cavaliers and play limited minutes, but those three players’ collective presence as mentors — and their experience in playoff scenarios — would be invaluable for a franchise that wants to win big immediately.
“With LeBron James, you are going to win 55 to 60 games regardless,” Miller said. “Now it's about what you do in the playoffs. For us, even with the young talent that they have there, you’ve got to bring guys that have been there before, even if they are not giving you heavy minutes.
“Because those are the guys that understand the preparation, the adjustments, things like that can really bring those guys along. And then you build it from there.”
In other words, the young guys will be carrying the Cavaliers through the long regular season while James and his former Heat friends make the pressure-packed plays in the playoffs.
Like Miller, Allen made plenty of clutch playoff three-pointers for the Heat, including the most memorable one of all.
The biggest shot of the veteran’s career came in his 17th season in the NBA when he tied the score in Game 6 of the 2013 Finals to send it into overtime. It’s a memory all fans of basketball, not just the ones who support the Heat, will remember as one of the sport’s biggest moments. The Heat trailed by five points with 28.2 seconds left in regulation before mounting a comeback that featured Allen’s corner three-pointer with 5.2 seconds left.
After Allen’s heroics, James then finished off the Spurs in Game 7 to give the Heat back-to-back championships.
Now James is hoping Allen still has some magic left in that distinctive jump shot. Allen would be heading to Cleveland as the NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers, with 2,973.
The combination of Miller and Allen flanking James, combined with the young talent already in Cleveland and veteran center Anderson Varejao, should make the Cavaliers a clear favorite to win the Eastern Conference. For the Heat, the losses of Jones and Rashard Lewis this week have put a damper on the positive momentum president Pat Riley had built during the hours and days after James left for Cleveland.
After a surplus of quality shooters for four seasons, the Heat is now short on marksmen. The Heat has been working this week to add some depth to the wing to go along with Luol Deng and Danny Granger.