By A. Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON Ray Allen made official on Tuesday what we've all known for some time now.
He is a Boston Celtic.
Allen exercised the second-year option on his contract to remain a Celtic for the upcoming 2011-2012 season.
The former UConn star averaged 16.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game last season and was named to his 10th All-Star team, which was his third (in four seasons) with the Celtics.
The veteran guard, who currently ranks 24th all-time in NBA history in career points scored (22,286), could have tested the free-agent waters this summer.
However, there were far too many reasons for him to remain in Boston.
For starters, there's the 10 million contract that he would be walking away from. As good as Allen was last season, there's no telling if any other team would be willing to pay him that kind of money.
And when you throw in the fact that the yet-to-be-hammered-out Collective Bargaining Agreement among the player's union and the owners will likely include lowered salaries, that adds even more uncertainty to the kind of salary a veteran with his talents could have demanded.
Maybe even more significant than the money is Allen's role with the Celtics.
Allen has developed a close relationship with the franchise and its fan base. It's not an uncommon thing for him and Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, to play golf during the offseason or on days off during the early part of the season.
But ultimately it comes down to how he performs. And this past season, one with so many guys struggling with their play or injuries, Allen was a steady force.
In addition, Allen's ability to shoot so well from 3-point range is a distinction that sets him apart from the other five players currently under contract for next season.
In fact, this past season Allen shot a career-best 44 percent and became the NBA's all-time leader in 3-pointers made when he passed Indiana Pacers great Reggie Miller on Feb. 11 - a game against the Los Angeles Lakers in which Miller, who works for TNT, was in attendance working as an analyst.
Even with Allen back in the fold, the Celtics will be hard-pressed to remain among the elite teams in the Eastern Conference.
But it's a challenge that Allen - and the C's - are eager to tackle.
"We found different ways to rise from the ashes, so to speak," Allen said during the C's most recent playoff series against the Miami Heat. "Winning championships, there's never a clear-cut formula how to do it."
But having a shooter like Allen on your roster, can only help.