- Brian Windhorst, ESPN.com
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Free agent Ray Allen left his meeting Thursday night with the Miami Heat without giving them an answer on their contract offer, and is torn on whether to leave the Boston Celtics, sources told ESPN.com Friday.
Allen had an afternoon meeting with Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra, then went to dinner with them and other members of the team's front office. The Heat offered Allen their mid-level exception, which starts at $3.09 million per season -- or half of the Celtics' offer of $6 million per year for two years. The most the Heat could offer is three years and $9.5 million.
The sources did not go into specifics, saying Allen is torn because remaining a Celtic is still very much an option.
Meanwhile, a third team -- the Minnesota Timberwolves -- has not been ruled out as an alternative for Allen, though he isn't at the top of the Wolves' wish list at the moment, sources tell ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher.
LeBron James says he hasn't spoken to Allen yet, but he is hopeful that Allen wants to win a title with the Heat.
"I haven't talked to Ray," James said when asked what his sales pitch was to Allen after Team USA's first scrimmage Friday afternoon in Las Vegas. "My sales pitch is we're trying to win a championship every year and we got the pieces to do it. He'd be a great addition to our team. We would love to have him. He would play a big role in us trying to repeat and we'll see what happens. Ray is a veteran guy, he understands what it means to win a championship and hopefully he'll want to do it with us."
James believes it would be easy for Allen to come in and mesh with the Heat right away.
"He's a champion, so we would love to add him,"James said. "He would fit right in with us. We're a team that likes to move the ball and also we're a team that likes to penetrate and kick out to our shooters so with Mike Miller and Shane Battier, if we can add Ray it would add another dimension to our team that can benefit us."
The Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers all reached out to Allen as well, but sources say the Clippers have been dropped from consideration and the Suns and Grizzlies have moved on to other alternatives. Allen, however, said a source familiar with his thinking, has not eliminated either the Suns or the Grizzlies.
Allen has been recruited by Heat stars James and Dwyane Wade. Riley and Spoelstra were believed to have presented a plan where Allen would have a major role in the offense, playing alongside them and Chris Bosh. The Heat are hoping that the offer entices Allen to leave money on the table and end his five-year partnership with Celtics stars Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
The Celtics, sources said, have their own plan for incorporating Allen into a different role that includes playing him alongside Jason Terry, who committed to sign with the Celtics earlier this week. The Boston Herald reported that Boston also has offered to include a no-trade clause in Allen's contract, something the Heat cannot offer.
Information from ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell was used in this report.
9dEthan Sherwood Strauss