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.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

Associated Press
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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.