Celtics guard Ray Allen confirmed tonight that he will return to the Celtics on a two-year, $20 million contract with a player option for the second year. It means that the Celtics will make one or perhaps two title runs with the Big Three intact as Paul Pierce agreed to a four-year contract extension Saturday.
“I’m so happy to be returning,” he said in a text to the Globe. “I’m looking forward to all the great times ahead.”
Allen had been wooed by contending teams but has decided to remain with the Celtics and has the flexibility of opting out of his contract after this season and becoming a free agent.
He averaged 16.3 points last season and needs just 117 3-pointers to become the all-time career leader. He trails only former Indiana Pacers great Reggie Miller.
His return means the core of the Celtics starting lineup will return intact. The lone exception is center Kendrick Perkins, who won’t return until at least February because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.
Allen, who turns 35 on July 20, joined the Celtics on draft night in 2007 and immediately bonded with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to help bring Boston its first NBA title in 22 years.
He has been the model of consistency in Boston, averaging 17.2 points, 46.7 percent shooting and 39.1 percent from the 3-point line in 232 regular season games. He set an NBA Finals record with eight 3-pointers in the Game 2 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers but finished 4 for 28 from beyond the arc in the final five games of the series.
Despite those struggles, Allen is still considered of the league’s premier shooters and garnered his share of attention on the free-agent market. There was speculation and coach Doc Rivers feared that Allen would bolt to a team with salary cap space and money to spend.
Several teams who could miss out of the LeBron sweepstakes are expected to overpay for free agents and the Chicago Bulls paid $80 million to Carlos Boozer on Wednesday night. Boozer is a two-time All-Star and has made the All-NBA team one time.
So the Celtics had every right to be concerned but Allen decided to return with a contract that appears amicable for both sides.