MIAMI – The NBA champion Miami Heat will get to make their sales pitch to Ray Allen.
A person familiar with Allen's plans told The Associated Press that the free-agent shooting guard will visit with Heat officials Thursday. Allen also is scheduled to visit Friday with the Los Angeles Clippers, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans were not announced.
Allen is one of Miami's top offseason targets, so much so that even NBA MVP LeBron James tweeted last week that he hopes to play alongside him next season. For that to happen, Allen would have to take less money than he almost certainly could make elsewhere.
Miami can offer Allen only the mini mid-level exception worth just more than $3 million for next season, or roughly half what the Boston Celtics are willing to pay to keep the NBA's leading 3-point shooter. Still, Allen's willingness to even listen to Heat President Pat Riley suggests that Miami's financial limits may not be a deterrent to a deal.
NBA.com first reported Allen's planned visits Tuesday morning.
The Heat made just under 36 percent of their 3-point attempts this season. Mike Miller (.453) and James Jones (.404) led the Heat in accuracy from beyond the arc, though Miller is sorting out what he will do next season as he deals with back and foot issues.
Allen would figure to be a perfect fit with Miami because the Heat want to surround James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with shooters who extend defenses and therefore create room around the basket for the "Big Three" to attack. That approach worked perfectly for Miami in the playoffs — the Heat were 9-1 when making at least eight 3-pointers in playoff games (7-6 otherwise), and they hit 14 in the finals-clincher over Oklahoma City.
Allen has made at least 100 3-pointers in 15 of his 16 seasons, the lone exception being when he connected on 74 in the shortened 50-game schedule of 1998-99. He's established career-bests for accuracy in each of the past two seasons, first making 44 percent of his 3's in 2010-11, then 45 percent this past year. His 2,718 career 3-pointers are the most in NBA history.
This round of free agency has a much quieter feel for Miami than the summer of 2010. For example, Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted Sunday that he was beginning a trip to Europe — a far different trek from what he, Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra and others embarked on two years ago when they began wooing James and Bosh to join Wade in Miami.
The selling point that summer was "sacrifice," and that hasn't changed.
James, Bosh and Wade all took less money than they could have made elsewhere to allow deals to fall into place for Miami in 2010. Last summer, Shane Battier accepted a deal worth $3 million annually.
That's about all Miami can offer anyone this summer as well. Barring any trades, the biggest chip Riley has to dangle is the mini mid-level.