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Report: Heat hot after Allen

The SportsXchange

The Miami Heat reportedly have made shooting guard Ray Allen their top priority in free agency.

The club will offer the free agent, who has played the last four seasons with the Boston Celtics, its $3 million mid-level exception, according to ESPN.com.

The NBA free-agent negotiating period begins at 12:01 a.m. Sunday. Players cannot sign contracts until July 11.

"We've got five or six guys earmarked (in free agency) so we'll see how it goes," Heat president Pat Riley said. "We want to find as much space as we can on the floor for Dwyane, LeBron and for Chris (Bosh) to be able to operate."

Allen, 36, averaged 10.7 points and 4.1 rebounds last season, when he missed 16 games because of injuries. He has averaged 20 points a game in 18 seasons and is one of the game's premier three-point shooters.

The Heat is hoping that the lure of helping the team win a second consecutive NBA championship with convince him to play for a contract that is below market value. Allen made $10 million last season with the Boston Celtics, who could use Larry Bird rights to re-sign him at a larger contract. And Yahoo!Sports reported the Phoenix Suns are also interested in signing Allen.

The Celtics already have agreed to a new contract with center Kevin Garnett to a three-year $34 million contract.

The Heat may already have lost center Ronny Turiaf, decided not to pick up his $1.1 million player option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent. His agent said he was interested in returning to Miami, but not at that salary.
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