ALLSTON Danny Ainge has made it known to anyone within earshot lately:
He wants Ray Allen back -- badly.
And while he has not given any specific numbers as to how much he's willing to play to retain Allen's services, multiple sources have confirmed that the Celtics are willing to offer twice as much as the C's stiffest competition for Allen, the Miami Heat.
Currently, all the Heat can offer Allen is a contract worth about 3 million. The Celtics appear open to giving Allen a contract paying as much as 6 million annually, which would trump just about any other offer he receives.
In addition to Boston and Miami, Phoenix and Memphis are also options. But neither is considered a serious contender at signing the NBA's all-time 3-point shooting king.
Ainge confirmed that Allen, along with Brandon Bass, are at the top of the Celtics' wish list.
"Right now, I have no updated information on Brandon and Ray, the two guys we would like to see back and we're working towards that," Ainge said.
The sense of urgency by Boston to get Allen back is due to a number of factors.
For starters, getting Allen became the C's top priority after they came to terms on a three-year deal for Kevin Garnett.
While Boston has entertained the notion of targeting other guards, such as Memphis' O.J. Mayo, Dallas' Jason Terry and Portland's Jamal Crawford, all pose concerns that make re-upping Allen a logical move.
Mayo, a player the C's nearly traded Allen for last season, appears to be in line for a multiyear deal that would place him out of the C's price range if they are to complete the long, laundry list of things they're trying to accomplish via free agency.
Like Allen, Terry and Crawford have drawn a considerable amount of attention as well. While both are talented players, neither is considered a significant upgrade over Allen.
With the Celtics aware of what it would likely take to retain Allen -- and not quite as sure of what would be needed to secure Terry or Crawford -- it all makes sense for the Celtics to lock in on Allen, who will be 37 years old later this month.
Allen's age would be a concern for many teams, as well as the recent surgery he had on his right ankle.
But having had Allen around for the past five seasons, Ainge knows all too well the kind of player he would be bringing back into the fold.
And that's why he wants Allen back -- badly.