Free agents Ray Allen and Paul Pierce could leave the Boston Celtics at the end of the year. Will Boston try to retain two of their big name players? Or is the lack of new contracts a message that Boston will be going in a new direction after the 2010 NBA Playoffs? Ray Allen and Paul Pierce have both been key players for the Boston Celtics to get back to the 2010 NBA Finals, but the question becomes relevant as to how many good years these guys have left in the NBA. Ray Allen becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, meaning he can sign with any team that he wants, while Paul Pierce could become a free agent if he decided to opt out of his current contract.
During the 2009-2010 NBA season, Paul Pierce made $19.8 million and Ray Allen made just short of $19.8 million in the final years of their current contracts. Paul Pierce has a player option that would pay him $21.5 million in the 2010-2011 season, and it stands to reason that he would want to accept that contract unless he feels someone would pay him more. The odds of that aren’t great, and it would be hard to imagine Paul Pierce going to another NBA team. He will most likely exercise his option to stay with the Boston Celtics, but his raise, along with those of Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo might just force the Celtics to let Ray Allen go. Garnett’s salary increases from $16.4 to $18.8 million and Rondo increases from $2.6 to $9 million next season.
Ray Allen might be coming close to the end of his career, but he could still hold promise as a nice veteran that could help out quite a few NBA teams. One example might be a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Orlando Magic, which would love to have someone that could simply spread the floor more, and wouldn’t have to work for his shot. Ray Allen could be deadly in a situation like that, and if a team were able to grab LeBron James from Cleveland this offseason, putting Ray Allen on the same court could really make that a team to beat. But would Boston let him just walk away? There is the chance that Ray Allen would take the mid-level exemption and a huge pay cut to stay with Boston, but that might be hard to do with some of the other high salaries on this team.
The reality is that the Boston Celtics title run of during the 2010 NBA Playoffs might be the last time that the ‘big three’ are on the same court together, and Boston fans should try to enjoy this while it lasts. Boston will be paying over $63 million for just six players under contract for the 2010-2011 season, placing them well over the NBA salary cap with nine players left to sign to the 15-man roster. They will have a lot of work to do during the offseason, including bringing in a number of quality bench players to spell the ever-aging Pierce and Garnett. Will the pocket-books be opened in the front office to make sure that Ray Allen stays in town? Or are these 2010 NBA Finals games the swan song for one of the best Celtics teams to take the floor?