The Heat consider Ray Allen their top priority in free agency and will start pursuing him when the free agent period begins late tonight, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. The Heat intend to offer the veteran sharpshooter their $3MM taxpayer mid-level exception, an opportunity for significant playing time, and the chance to win another title with the defending champions.
According to Windhorst, the Heat would prefer to swoop in and reach an agreement with Allen quickly, since there are other teams with the means to make larger offers. Miami is hoping the opportunity to play for a title contender will make up for an offer below market value.
The Celtics, who have reportedly reached an agreement with Kevin Garnett, are expected to have interest in bringing Allen back, and the Suns figure to pursue him as well. The Celtics hold Allen's Bird rights and the Suns could have a ton of cap space, so both teams could make substantial offers. There is mutual interest between Allen and Miami though, and the Heat consider the 36-year-old their prime offseason target, which probably can't be said about Boston, Phoenix, or some of Allen's other potential suitors.