NBA Playoffs: Ray Allen steadily increasing his free agent value

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Let’s keep it simple, for starters: Ray Allen is old. Soon to be 35-years-old, in fact. That means that when Allen enters free agency this summer, a number of teams will see him as a bit too much the elder statesman to be part of their rebuilding projects, and a few quasi-contenders may also take a pass to avoid inking an aging shooting guard to a long-term contract.

It’s hard to dispute the fact that there are plenty of iffy fits for Allen in terms of his age and ability at this point in his career. Yet with each sweet-shooting performance for the Celtics in this year’s playoffs, he comes one step closer to making bank with a team looking to provide perimeter scoring.

Ray is having his best postseason run as a Celtic, and he’s currently averaging Boston career highs in true shooting percentage (62.1%) and PER (16.1). He may turn 35 this summer, but Allen certainly isn’t playing like it. Right now, that’s translating into wins, as Boston is 5-0 in playoff games this year in which Allen scores 20+ points. But later, it’ll be translating into dollars, as Ray’s value in this series will undoubtedly earn him a few extra dollars on the deal he inks this summer. Here’s Doug Smith of the Toronto Star on the subject:

It can also be said – and will be said – that Boston’s Ray Allen has
made himself a whack of money with his oft-overwhelming performance in
these playoffs; a free agent to be who may now find many teams
clamouring to throw cash his way in July.

Allen has been outstanding at times – like in his five
three-point gem on Tuesday night – and you could make the case that
he’s the difference in the Celtics. When he’s making tough, contested
shots, they win. Anyway, he’s also without a contract at the end of this season
I guarantee you there are GMs out there salivating at the chance to
make him an offer.

Yes, he’ll be 35 when next season rolls around and, yes, he’s not the greatest of defenders in the history of the game. But, man, can he shoot and it would not surprise me in the least
if some team didn’t offer him a three-year deal at the mid-level
exception (maybe with the third year non-guaranteed) because there is
an awful lot of value left in those old bones.

Considering the generally poor returns on midlevel deals, Smith’s notion that Allen could be had for three years at the midlevel would be a pretty decent bang for a team’s buck. It’s tough to predict exactly how good Allen will be when nearing 38 (especially on the defensive end), but it’s worth noting that Reggie Miller, the most organic comparison for Allen, was still a capable player at 39.

It seems unlikely that Ray will be in Boston next season as the Celtics look to retool for a run at a later date, though there’s always a possibility that an extended postseason sprint this season could keep the band together for another tour. Should Allen leave, there are a number of contending teams that could vie for his services, particularly if he’s available for the MLE.

Miami Heat to retire Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey next season

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Shaquille O’Neal’s No. 34 jersey already hangs in the rafters at Staples Center for the Lakers.  He’s getting a statue there, too.

Next season, he will have his number retired on the other warm southern coast, this time in Miami.

The Heat have announced they will retire Shaq’s No. 32 jersey next season.

“Shaquille O’Neal is one of the truly elite players in the history of the game and one of the greatest players to ever wear a Heat uniform,” team president Pat Riley said in a released statement. “He took us to another level as a basketball franchise while leading us to our first NBA championship. Retiring his number in the rafters, along with Heat greats Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, is something we are very proud of.”

Riley left out that the Heat also retired Michael Jordan’s 23, and Dan Marino’s 12 also hangs in the rafters of the arena. Neither of those make much sense, but whatever.

Shaq played three-and-a-half seasons in Miami, averaging 19.6 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. Shaq was a three-time All-Star with the Heat and was at the heart of the franchise’s first title, along with Dwyane Wade… and Mark Cuban would tell you the officials. But that’s another discussion. He was also bitter after being traded to Phoenix and slammed Miami management and players on his way out the door.

Time heals all wounds.

Bull for Bull: Pau Gasol to replace Jimmy Butler in All-Star Game

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 6:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Chicago Bulls prepares to shoot a free throw against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 6, 2016 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Jimmy Butler is out of the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto this weekend due to a strained knee. Which suck, because he earned that spot, and while the fans didn’t vote him in the coach’s did.

Butler’s teammate Pau Gasol will replace him.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver gets to make the call on a replacement, and he stayed in Chicago, but he added a front court player to replace a guard. Keeping a Bulls representative might have been part of the thinking. The coaches’ votes on replacement players has been weighed in the past (Gasol may have been high on that list, coaches love him). Also, the East roster has a lot of wings and was light on bigs (Andre Drummond, Paul Millsap and Chris Bosh are the only real bigs), so this gives coach Tyronn Lue some flexibility up front.

The East leading Cleveland Cavaliers remain with just one representative, LeBron James (voted in by the fans).

Gasol is averaging 17 points, 10.9 rebounds, and a couple blocks a game, and is the only thing close to a consistent performer the Bulls have. Besides the injured Butler.

Bulls’ All-Star Jimmy Butler out 3-4 weeks with strained knee

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It was concerning when it happened — Jimmy Butler injured his knee and had to be taken off the court on a stretcher.

But then the reports came back saying the X-rays were negative, this was just a strain. Butler was going to miss some time, but the question was how much?

Turns out, 3-4 weeks — including the All-Star Game, the team announced Tuesday. From the official team press release:

Bulls guard/forward Jimmy Butler was re-examined by Bulls Head Team Physician Brian Cole.  Butler is expected to miss the next three to four weeks with a strained left knee. Butler has begun rehabbing his injury and he will be allowed to engage in all activities as tolerated with the primary goal of maintaining his conditioning over the ensuing weeks.

Butler is the Bulls best player, averaging 22.4 points a game and handling a lot of the shot creation for the team (along with Derrick Rose, who was out Monday injured). The Bulls offense is 1.6 points per 100 possessions better when Butler plays, plus he usually draws the other team’s best wing player as his defensive assignment.

Following an ugly loss to the Hornets Monday night, the Bulls are now 5-12 in their last 17 games. Since Joakim Noah went out for the season with an injured shoulder in particular, their defense has struggled. They still have no offensive identity.  Chicago has fallen to the seven seed in the West, just 1.5 games ahead of Charlotte and falling out of the playoffs completely. This injury is simply going to add to that slide.

The Bulls thought they were the team that could challenge Cleveland for supremacy in the East at the start of the season. Now they may need a late push just to make the playoffs.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will pick his All-Star Game replacement. In the past, he has picked the player highest in the fan voting not selected as a reserve, in this case that would be Kyrie Irving. But Silver can go any direction he chooses.

Report: George Karl to remain Kings coach following face-to-face meeting with GM

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George Karl isn’t going anywhere as coach of the Sacramento Kings after all.

At least for now.

Marc Stein of ESPN, who had the report that the Kings decided to fire Karl during the All-Star Break — now says the two sides have sat down and hashed things out. For now.

Those first reports went too far down the line, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

First things first, the Kings are a leaky organization right now. Which is never a good sign.

This has become a power struggle in the organization — DeMarcus Cousins has said the Kings’ problems go beyond the players, and he is known not to be a fan of Karl (Rajon Rondo is the coach’s biggest supporter because Karl gives him a green light). Owner Vivek Ranadive remains too impatient, stability is needed.

But there are still big picture questions to be answered.

Ranadive, with Vlade Divac, needs to sit down and set the long-term course for this team, including style of play they want to have, then decide if Karl can be part of that future. Also, if Cousins can be part of that future. If those two can be part of the future together (I’m not sure they can).

There needs to be more meetings with the Kings, and then this summer some significant decisions must be made. But doing it now at the All-Star break isn’t going to change anything. So Karl stays.