Ray Allen, outside of Derron Williams and maybe Steve Nash, is the most talked about free agent in the NBA right now. The Boston Celtics free agent is visiting with the Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat this week as a queue of championship contenders is forming outside his agent's office.
There are two destinations that would be expected to be clearly ahead of all others.
The Miami Heat can offer Ray Allen a pitch like no other. If Allen, as one would expect, does intend on making this decision based on maximizing his potential to add one more championship ring to his fingers, then there is no other option than the Miami Heat.
No other team can offer Allen the opportunity to play alongside superstars as talented as Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Last season, the Heat won an NBA championship with key contributions from outside shooters such as Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller and Shane Battier.
Those shooters saw very little attention.
Attention is something that Allen is surely sick of at this point in his career. Being the best three point shooter in the NBA comes with some shackles as defenders have leeched themselves onto him throughout his career.
From a sheer basketball perspective, the Heat are Allen's best chance to win a ring and add to his own personal reputation. Surpassed the Heat, Allen would also fit well in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Allen would get to play alongside the best point guard in the NBA, with newly acquired small forward Lamar Odom and rising stars Blaine Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
On the other hand, the Boston Celtics fit for Allen from solely a basketball perspective was delved into ambiguity with the news that Jason Terry is expected to sign for the Celtics.
In Boston, Allen definitely wouldn't be a starter, but he wouldn't be in Miami either. If being a starter is what Allen desires, then the Los Angeles Clippers are his only option. Playing for the Celtics would mean accepting a role on the bench behind Avery Bradley.
With the Celtics, Allen wouldn't even be guaranteed to be the first option off the bench as Terry is expected to fill the sixth man role in Boston. Couple that with the fact that Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo are young athletic players who don't need as much rest as the average starter.
The Celtics do need depth however and scoring options coming off of the bench. For that reason they are still interested in Allen even if his role will change.
What must become clear before anything unfolds in this miniature saga, is Ray Allen's relationship with every aspect of the Celtics' franchise.
Allen wasn't opposed to playing from the bench last season when Avery Bradley emerged, but he clearly understood at the time that that was a short-term thing. If he signs a contract in Boston, then he is accepting that he will be Bradley's backup if their plans stay on course.
There are no question marks over Allen's relationships with Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine Allen leaving the trio and playing against the group in the regular season or the playoffs.
Question marks do lie over his relationship with Rajon Rondo.
Rondo and Allen are rumored to have a tense relationship that could deter him from returning to the Celtics. It's not clear exactly what the issues between the two are or how significant they are, they did not appear to affect the team last season, but they are noteworthy until proven otherwise.
Allen is in the peculiar position of not having to decide between personal and business, but rather emotive aspects. Obviously Allen desires another ring, but what that is worth to him is another thing. At this point in his career, despite his fitness, he doesn't have much longer left playing in the NBA.
He can look at that two ways.
Either Allen is desperate to cement his legacy, a legacy that already comes with a hall-of-fame guarantee, or he can ease the transition into the next stage of his life. His retirement.
The Celtics have offered Allen $12 million. Allen has already made enough money to retire on 100 times over after an illustrious career. With that $12 million, Allen's family are set for the rest of their lives. However, Allen and his wife have much greater plans than basketball.
After their son, Walker, was diagnosed with diabetes, his mother and father became heavily involved in supporting research and fighting against the disease. It may seem greedy to some for Allen, or any professional basketball player, to make decision purely based on money, but when you are looking to use that money in certain ways, then it becomes a greater factor.
The Celtics are offering more money, but there is also the fact that Allen has a family which was very recently extended to four children, which has resided in Boston for the past five years. Unsettling a family, or worse separating the children from their father, for the next two seasons is not an ideal move.
The artist formerly known as Jesus Shuttlesworth has a tough decision to make over the next week or two.Cian Fahey writes for the Guardian, Steelersdepot and FFBLife. You can find him on twitter @Cianaf