MIAMI — Ray Allen has made some interesting decisions over the past few summers. In 2012, he decided to sign with the Heat rather than the Celtics. In 2013, he exercised his option to remain in Miami for at least one more season. And another decision comes this summer, when Allen will decide whether to continue his NBA career.
Allen is a free agent-to-be and will turn 39 next month. And while it appears he has plenty left in his finely tuned body, the guard said retirement is an option. He would likely receive his share of offers this summer.
"I guess everything [is factored into the decision]," he said Thursday before the Heat lost to the Spurs, 107-86, in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. "You get away from it, you sit down and get an opportunity to think about it. It depends on how my body feels. I love the condition I've been in over the last couple of years. It's just a natural progression."
Allen said he has enjoyed playing with considerably younger players, downplaying the generation gap.
"I don't look at this as an age thing for me, it's never been an age thing," said Allen, who was averaging 9.6 points in the playoffs entering Game 4. "I always laugh because I see the birthdates of the some of the younger guys. They're born in the '90s. In the '90s! I was kicking it hard in the '90s.
"So, being in the locker room with younger guys, you talk about the athleticism, you talk about the strength, if anything, it rubs off on you to always keep your mind sharp, to always keep your body on point. The weight room stares at you every time you walk into the locker room. It's just hard to not want to keep up or set the tone."
LeBron James was cool, calm, and collected the past two days, despite the Heat losing Game 3, 111-92, to go down, two games to one. James said he ignored social media, as well as other criticism, and was focused on shutting down the Spurs in Game 4.
"I said, I'm not too concerned about that because we played some good ball over the postseason. So, that's different from, am I concerned about us losing last night or losing another game?" he said. "You're always on edge in the postseason, but I don't want to be concerned at this point. For us, we have to make the adjustments. We owned, like I said, what we had to do [Wednesday] in the film session, and we'll come in with a better mind-set [for Game 4]. But that doesn't mean it results in a win, too. But we have to play with a little bit more focus and a little bit more challenge."
One of the Heat's primary concerns heading into Game 4 was the play of point guard Mario Chalmers, and he submitted another subpar effort, scoring 4 points on 2-for-6 shooting, with five assists. He has more fouls in the series (15) than points (14). Chalmers acknowledged before the game that free agency has been on his mind, but claimed it hasn't affected his play.
"I'm not Mario Chalmers and I'm not sure what goes through his mind," James said. "I mean, this is the NBA Finals, but also it is his livelihood that he's playing for as well, you know, with him being a free agent this summer. So, I'm not quite sure. All I can do as a leader of this team is try to maintain and let him know what the job is at hand.
"I understand that he's a point guard on a championship team, and we need him. We do. I mean, he's been key for us throughout these runs. But obviously right now he's been struggling a lot. But the No. 1 thing is he can't lose confidence in himself. Before we can give him confidence as a teammate, he has to believe in himself that he can make plays and just be out there and be reliable."
ESPN reported Wednesday that the Heat are looking into maneuvering their salary cap situation to acquire potential free agent Carmelo Anthony. James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh have opt-out clauses in their contracts. To make cap space to sign Anthony, each would have to opt out, then agree to new contracts at less than market value.
Anthony has to opt out of his contract with the Knicks by June 23, which would make him an unrestricted free agent. James has not committed to a decision on his contract, while Bosh said he would accept a pay reduction to stay in Miami.
When asked about the rumor, James said, "So, what happened? Does it bother me? No. I'm just hearing about it.
"It's not a problem at all. Obviously, Melo has his own decision to make, and that has not crossed my mind at this point in the season. So, I really don't have an answer."
Focused on present
The Spurs led the entire way in Game 3, an impressive victory that was not without suspense. The Heat cut their deficit from 25 points to 7 late in the third quarter, but Spurs point guard Tony Parker insisted his team was not thinking about losing the final two games of last year's Finals in Miami.
San Antonio blew a 5-point lead with 29 seconds left in regulation in Game 6 of last year's Finals, including Allen's tying 3-pointer. Parker, however, said the focus has always been on this series.
"To be honest with you, we didn't even talk about it, Games 6 and 7," Parker said. "The only time [coach Gregg Popovich] reminded us of that was Day 1 in training camp.
"That's it. It's a new year. That's why I don't like revenge. It's a rematch. We're playing a great team. They're two-time champions, and we didn't even talk about that."
Prior to Tuesday night, the Heat had won 11 straight playoff games at home.
"We think we can win on every court," Parker said. "We have the best record on the road, and we love playing on the road. Sometimes I feel like we play better on the road than at home.
"So, I don't think we had doubts that we can win in Miami. Now, we realized it was a crazy game and we're not going to play like that every night, that's for sure. But hopefully we can keep playing well."