Celtics still talking with Ray Allen

Updated: July 2, 2012, 3:40 PM ET
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com

ALLSTON, Mass. -- Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Monday that it's status quo with free agent shooting guard Ray Allen but stressed that Allen remains one of the team's primary targets as it attempts to reassemble its core for the 2012-13 season.

"I'm not sure if there's progress or no progress, there's just conversation going on," Ainge said of contract talks with Allen's representatives. Ainge spoke after the introduction of Boston's three draft picks at a community event at the Jackson Mann/Horace Mann Education Complex.

"We really want Ray to come back. Time will tell," Ainge said.

Sources said the Celtics, with whom Allen has spent the past five seasons, are prepared to double the salary the Miami Heat can offer Allen, while the Memphis Grizzlies have offered Allen their full mid-level exception, worth $5 million, for two years. Those same sources indicated Boston is positioned to offer a two-year, $12 million contract to the soon-to-be 37-year-old Allen.

The Los Angeles Clippers also are interested in signing Allen, league sources told ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard on Monday.

Like the Grizzlies, the Clippers can offer Allen the full mid-level exception. The Clippers view Allen as a starter, the sources said.

In addition to Boston, Miami, Memphis and the Clippers, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks have also expressed interest in Allen, the sources said.

After hammering out a three-year contract extension with Kevin Garnett over the weekend, and confident that a deal will soon be finalized with free agent Jeff Green, Ainge said both Allen and Brandon Bass are Boston's top priorities moving forward.

"I don't know if there's a priority, but we're trying to get Ray and Brandon both back," Ainge said. "I feel good about Jeff and where he's at. He wants to be back, we want him back, and we're working to make that happen.

"Right now, I have no updated information on Brandon and Ray, the two guys that we'd like to see back and we're working toward that."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers talked to Allen on Sunday and called it a "stretch" that Allen will play elsewhere next season.

"We really want him back and I really think at the end of the day that he will be back because this is such a good fit for him," Rivers said. "We need him back and we're trying to get him back. We can offer him more money. Yes, there are a couple of teams way under the cap who might be able to offer more money. But other than that, we can offer him more (than Miami or Memphis). He already lives here. He knows his role and everything else. It's a stretch for me to see him go somewhere else."

Free agency officially opened Sunday at 12:01 a.m. ET, but players cannot sign contracts until July 11.

Ainge wouldn't delve into the three-year contract extension with Garnett, noting only, "We plan on entering a contract with him, too, at the end of the (free-agency) moratorium."

Asked about free agents Mickael Pietrus and Keyon Dooling, role players this past season, and the desire to bring them back next season, Ainge repeated that the priority for now is on top rotation players.

"I think that you have to get your best 5-7 guys first, then you have to see what's left," Ainge said. "There's a lot of managing payroll, managing the (salary) cap, and the (luxury) tax -- and future years in the cap and tax that come into play. Timing is very important in going through this process."

It's worth noting that first-round draft pick Fab Melo requested his collegiate number -- No. 51 -- but was told it's unavailable. Dooling wore that number in 2011-12; Melo settled for No. 13 (his high school number).

Ainge confirmed the Celtics are aiming to remain below the $74 million luxury tax threshold, which would allow them to use the full mid-level exception ($5 million) in order to add another big-name free agent (or retain one of their own). But he noted the difficulty is that it locks Boston into a firm cap.

"If we use the (full) mid-level, we have to stay under the $74 million, there's no choice," Ainge said. "We're trying to use the mid-level. There's competition out there on the open market. If we use that mid-level exception, then it basically becomes a hard cap at $74 million."

Asked about the potential to bring back Chris Wilcox, waived late in the season after a heart ailment was detected, Ainge said simply, "Yes, we like Chris." The Celtics, who were over the luxury tax threshold a year ago, used the full taxpayer's mid-level ($3 million) to sign Wilcox last offseason.

Soon-to-be second-year guard E'Twaun Moore has a non-guaranteed team option in his deal and Ainge said his spot on the roster will likely be determined by how much progress he shows as part of the team's 10-game summer league slate in Orlando and Las Vegas.

"It's a big summer for E'Twaun," Ainge said. "He's under contract. He'll come into summer league and his performance will be huge for him."

The Celtics must decide after the final summer league game whether to guarantee the second year of Moore's deal, valued at $762,000.

Asked about the team's potential interest in veteran big man Marcus Camby, Ainge noted, "I won't confirm any free agents that we've reached out to -- other than our own."

ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard contributed to this report.

Chris Forsberg

Celtics reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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