Guard Ray Allen, the Heat's primary target in free agency, will visit Heat headquarters on Thursday.
That was first reported by NBA TV's David Aldridge on Tuesday morning, and then confirmed to The Herald by a source close to the situation.
Allen plans to visit the Clippers as well. The Celtics have offered Allen a two-year, $12 million deal. The Clippers can offer $5 million per year over three years. Miami can offer Allen no more than $3.1 milllion per year over three years.
The Clippers will host Jamal Crawford on a visit Tuesday, and the Clippers hope either Crawford or Allen takes their $5 million exception. Unlike the Heat, the Clippers could offer Allen a starting job.
The Heat, by the way, has a smaller cap exception than the Clippers because Miami is over the luxury-tax threshold. Under the new labor deal, teams over that threshold can spend only a $3.1 million mini-mid level, not the full $5 million mid-level. So there's that working against Miami.
Memphis, Atlanta, Minnesota and Dallas also have shown interest in Allen. But the Celtics, Heat and Clippers have emerged as the strongest contenders.
Allen, 36, averaged 14.2 points last season and shot 45.3 percent on three-pointers. He has made the most threes in NBA history.
The Celtics, according to Yahoo, also are close to finalizing a deal with Jason Terry for their $5 million exception. But they are still determined to keep Allen and share backcourt time among Allen, Terry, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley, with the ability use smaller lineups with three of them.
As we first reported Monday, the Heat also has called to express interest in Rashard Lewis and Marcus Camby, among others.
Lewis intrigues Miami because of his shooting range, size (6-10) and ability to play either forward position. “Rashard definitely would have interest in Miami,” his agent, Tony Dutt said, adding that the Heat called to make its interest known. “He’s looking at three or four similar terrific situations.”
The Lakers and Knicks are also in the mix for Lewis.
Lewis, 32, was limited to 28 games last season because of injuries (including a bone bruise to his left knee) and averaged 7.8 points for Washington. He averaged 11.7 points in 2010-11 and 16.1 in his career.
If he can get back to his level of a couple years ago, Lewis is the type of "stretch" power forward that would be an ideal fit for Miami's offense. He made 87 three-pointers two years ago and is a career 38.8 percent three-point shooter. New Orleans bought him out last week after acquiring him from the Wizards.
Camby has said his first choice is to stay in Houston, but the Rockets have extended a three-year, $25 million offer sheet to Chicago free agent center Omer Asik. If the Bulls don't match, that could change their approach with Camby.
The Heat, Mavericks, Knicks and Spurs also hold appeal to Camby, who averaged 4.9 points and 9.0 rebounds in 59 games for Portland and Houston last season.
Camby, 38, does not want to settle for the $1.2 million veteran’s minimum. The Heat is holding onto its $3.1 million mini mid-level exception until it gets some clarity from Allen, who is being courted by Miami and at least six other teams. Jason Terry also appeals to the Heat. But like Allen, Terry can make more by signing elsewhere.