He may have turned 39 a few months ago and is coming off his worst shooting season in years, but Ray Allen is still one of the more sought-after free agents in the NBA, especially by the league’s best teams.
Ray, after a bunch of seasons with the Bucks, SuperSonics, and five with the Celtics, spent the last two in Miami with the Heat, winning his second title in 2013 and coming up just short in 2014. His performance appeared to fade as the season progressed and the postseason came, signs evident of a man approaching 40 years of age.
However, his historically great shooting stroke has been rarely repeated in the NBA, so even as the rest of his physical traits wear down with age, his three-point prowess remains. That is the reason why the defending champion San Antonio Spurs have now joined the race to sign the aging sharpshooter, along with the Clippers, Cavaliers, Mavericks and others.
Normally, players of Allen’s age who saw their production drop off significantly in the season prior just end up retiring when their contract expires, as leaguewide interest for their services dries up. They would rather fill that last roster spot with a 21-year-old with high potential than a player who was a rookie in decades past.
It is rare nowadays that players play into their forties, with the NBA’s talent level being so high for all teams, but it appears that he may actually do that. Also, it is not like the league’s bottom-dwellers are the only parties trying to gain his employment for the sake of selling more tickets or jerseys.
The top teams, and title contenders, in the entire NBA are those chasing after Ray, and chasing hard.
Even the Wizards — an overall young team who signed his former teammate, Paul Pierce, this offseason — are interested in his services, which should say as much about his appeal as anything. Washington has made it clear it is using youth to get into the top tier of contenders, and still wants Ray Allen on roster to contribute.
Who knows how many years Ray Allen has left, but it probably is not many, even as long as it seems he will be a valuable asset for. For the time being, though, he’s still playing, and that’s a great thing for all older players in the NBA–as well as for the team he ends up signing with.