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The Miami Heat hosted free agent guard Ray Allen on Thursday, making a hard pitch for the veteran three-point specialist.
A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the free agent guard visited the Heat in Miami on Thursday. Allen was planning to remain in South Florida until Friday, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because no details of the meeting were publicly revealed.
Allen was originally scheduled to meet with the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, but that meeting was canceled after the Clippers signed Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups to contracts Thursday.
The Heat have tried their best to keep their meetings with Allen under wraps. Two reporters staked out Prime Italian in Miami Beach Thursday night, only to find that the team had canceled a reservation. Allen was seen outside Il Gabbiano in downtown Miami with Heat president Pat Riley, coach Erik Spoelstra, and vice president Alonzo Mourning.
The Heat would love to add a sharp shooter who can punish opposing defenses for double-teaming LeBron James. Miami's limited budget means the most they can offer Allen is $9.1 million over three years, so they will almost certainly not be the high bidder for Allen. The Celtics have reportedly offered Allen $12 million for two years.
When Allen ate dinner with Riley, Spoelstra and Mourning Thursday night, he was doubtless told that the younger Heat will be the favorites to win another championship in 2013, while Boston is another year older with its championship window likely shut.
It probably does not hurt that Boston plans to relieve Allen of his starting job, since Miami does not have a starting spot to offer.
The Heat are not leaving any stone unturned, though. Forward Rashard Lewis is scheduled to visit Miami on Saturday. Tony Dutt, his agent, told the Miami Herald the Heat are "one of his final couple choices." Lewis is also being courted by New York, San Antonio and Atlanta.
Lewis was bought out by the New Orleans Hornets last month, meaning he will earn $13.7 million next year on top of whatever another team will pay him. This could induce him to accept the $1.3 million veteran's minimum from Miami.