EAST GRANBY: Ray Allen put himself through his old paces this week, his NBA regimen, and felt as good as ever.
“I worked out the other day in New York with a friend of mine,” Allen said Saturday (Sunday in Manila), during a break from his annual instructional camp at East Granby High. “I was shooting, I was going through my routine just like I’d always done. Yeah, I was a little winded, but I was able to go through my routine like I’d always gone though my routine and I didn’t feel like I’d missed any time in doing what I was doing. For me, it’s not ‘Can I do it anymore?’ It’s how I feel after I do it. And yesterday, I felt great.
“I could not have learned all that I’ve learned in 20 years of my life, dealing with coach [Jim] Calhoun, and how to sleep right, eat right, and then go to the NBA and do what I’ve done there and then afterwards just drop the ball and let everything go. I still weigh the same I weighed in college.”
Allen, 41, the former UConn star who won two championships and was a 10-time NBA All-Star, is gearing up or a comeback after two seasons out of the league. While he is not certain he will suit up again, he made it clear that this is not just idle chatter.
“My decision is predicated on what is available,” he said. “I said that I was interested because I never retired for a reason. I’ve been watching, seeing what teams have been doing and I’ve been waiting to see if the opportunity presented itself where I think I could fit.”
It has been assumed that Allen, who last played for the Heat in 2014, would be most likely to join the champion Cavaliers, reuniting in Cleveland with LeBron James, or the runner-up Warriors, who have added Kevin Durant to the team that went 73-9 in the regular season.
The Spurs and Clippers have been mentioned, also, but Allen said he has spoken with the Celtics, with whom he won a championship in 2008, and the Bucks, his first NBA stop.
“I would love going back to those places if it worked out,” Allen said, “because both teams are good, too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be championship-or-bust for me to go back to the NBA.
“I want to be in a situation where I thought I could help, play a little bit and help where they have good young talent.”
Allen, who lives much of the time in Miami, has opened a restaurant called Grown, said he is not yet sure what direction the Heat are taking. How about the Knicks? “Spike Lee has been trying to recruit me,” Allen said. “We’ve been texting.”
Lee, the Knicks’ high profile fan, wrote and directed the 1998 film “He Got Game,” in which Allen starred.
Allen, the most prolific three-point-shot maker in NBA regular season (2,973) and playoff (385) history, could bring a perimeter threat on salary-cap friendly terms to a contending team.
He wants to be part of a team; he wants a team that wants him,” said former Husky Rudy Johnson, who was coaching at Allen’s camp. “And I have no doubt if any team gave him the opportunity, he would make good on it.”
A young rebuilding team is unlikely, because, Allen said, “then I might as well coach.” He expects to make a decision by the start of training camp, rather than look to join a team in midseason.
“At the start of the year, if nothing pans out, then basically I’ll retire,” he said.
Two other former Huskies, Rip Hamilton and Ben Gordon, who is playing for the British national team, are also contemplating NBA comebacks — which Allen supports.
“I don’t think Ben ever was gone,” Allen said. “It was just a matter of finding a situation that worked for him. Rip was in the same predicament. He was doing some [work as a commentator]and chilling at home, but I don’t think those two guys ever officially said ‘this is it for me, I’m done.’ Ben and Rip could definitely help teams, they could have a good impact, they’re good at what they do. All that matters is a team that’s going to say, ‘We’re going to commit to you short term because we want to win right now,’ because those guys can help a team win right now.”
Allen is making his usual summer stops on Connecticut, where he maintains a residence. He played in the Travelers Pro Am on Wednesday, and will be one of many former Huskies — men and women this year — who will play in Jim Calhoun’s Charity All-Star game on Aug. 12 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
At Ray Allen ProCamp, presented by Sunny D, Allen and his staff of coaches again worked with roughly 200 boys and girls in grades 1 to 12. One of the coaches issued a challenge: anyone who hit 20 three-pointers in two minutes would be allowed to shoot the three whenever he or she wanted. To illustrate the difficulty, Allen, who has shot 40 percent from three-point range as a pro, tried, and went 17-for-41.
“I want kids to believe that I was just like they were, and to believe that they, too, can aspire to great things,” he said. “Very simple stuff, if they stuck to the message of working hard and taking care of their grades, they can do something great in their lives.”