MIAMI — While wearing a pair of ski goggles to protect his eyes from the spray of champagne in the Miami Heat locker room last week, Ray Allen assessed what it was like to be part of another NBA championship celebration.
“It feels right,” Allen said. “This feels right.”
He’s hoping things stay that way next season.
Quickly tying up a loose end for the Heat, Allen exercised his $3.2 million player option Friday to remain with the club next season, when Miami will aim for a third straight NBA title.
He wound up playing a huge role for Miami in this year’s title run, especially by hitting what he described as the biggest shot of his career — a 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, forcing overtime and saving the season.
Teammates, coaches and the Heat front office made it very clear to Allen that he was wanted back for next season. He left Miami after the end-of-season team meeting Tuesday without giving the organization an answer, although he didn’t keep people waiting much longer. He could have elected to become a free agent and wound up getting more years and more money in a new deal, but he decided to stay with the Heat.
Allen, 37, played in 102 games during the regular season and playoffs for Miami. That was the most appearances by any NBA player this past season.
Allen averaged 10.9 points in the regular season and 10.2 in the playoffs.
SIXERS’ GM DENIES TALK OF COACHING HIRE
Philadelphia general manager Sam Hinkie denied a New York Daily News report that the 76ers had decided to hire San Antonio assistant coach Brett Brown as their head coach.
“Nothing of that substance happened I could tell you,” Hinkie said after Thursday night’s NBA draft. “We had a lot of things going on. That was not part of what happened in the last several hours.”
Hinkie said he has not formally interviewed anyone for the coaching job vacated April 18 by Doug Collins.
NBA assistant coaches David Fizdale (Heat), Michael Curry (Sixers), Melvin Hunt (Nuggets) and Rockets assistants Chris Finch and Kelvin Sampson, a former head coach at Washington State, also have been mentioned as potential candidates for the Philadelphia job.
Curry, who was the associate head coach under Collins, will run the Sixers’ Orlando Summer League team from July 7-12.
Former Seattle SuperSonics coach Bernie Bickerstaff will be an assistant on Mike Brown’s staff with the Cavaliers. Bickerstaff took over as the Lakers’ interim coach last season after Brown was fired after five games. ... Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank will return to the team as an assistant under new coach Jason Kidd. Frank is the Nets’ career leader in victories, going 225-241 in parts of seven seasons, when Kidd was his point guard. He returns after spending two seasons as the Pistons’ coach, going 54-94. ... The Bobcats extended a qualifying offer to guard Gerald Henderson, making him a restricted free agent, but not to center Byron Mullens. The qualifying offer of $4.2 million to Henderson will allow the Bobcats to match any offer he gets from another team.