On the same day the Miami Heat were to become the first team to meet with LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers made waves in their own pursuit of the prized free agent. ESPN's Chris Broussard reports that Cleveland is chasing after veteran free agent Ray Allen, who played with James the past two seasons in Miami.
The news came immediately after reports indicated the Cavs had shipped off Jarrett Jack, Tyler Zeller and Sergey Karasev in a three-team deal with Brooklyn and Boston. That trade opened enough cap space for Cleveland to sign James on a max contract.
Obviously, the pursuit of Allen has much to do with James. Whether it's a realistic free agent signing remains to be seen.
Why would Allen join the Cavs?
The easy answer: to play with LeBron. The matter could be more complicated here because James still must meet with the Heat to determine whether he will even consider a return to Cleveland. From a pure basketball perspective, Allen would be a perfect fit in Cleveland. He wouldn't have to log heavy minutes with guard Dion Waiters also on the squad, and his shooting would complement Waiters and rookie Andrew Wiggins.
Cleveland, like any team that would sign James, would be an instant title contender. The pressure for Allen would be minimal, and his chances of adding another level of leadership to a young squad would be beneficial in the process of chasing after a title.
Why wouldn't Allen join the Cavs?
Another easy answer: if James decides against returning to the Cavaliers. Allen will turn 39 this month and probably wouldn't be keen on joining a team that won just 33 games last season unless it undergoes a major upgrade. Allen is not asking for a whole lot of money -- he made $3.2 million last season with the Heat -- so a more playoff-ready squad would be appealing if he's not completely tied to following James wherever he goes.
How likely is Allen to the Cavs?
Nothing is a sure thing at this point, and nobody knows what James is thinking. Despite what the rumor-mill might be saying, there's a reason James will meet with Riley to iron things out. Whether he returns to the Heat or begins exploring his options, there's a lot that can change in the next day, if not the next week. Give it a 2 out of 10 chance that Allen joins Cleveland, since James must do it first.