- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 4, 2015

MIAMIRay Allen might return to the NBA — just not this season.

The league’s all-time leading 3-point shooter who played for two championship clubs announced Wednesday that he decided not to sign with any franchise for the remainder of this season, although he left the door open for a possible return in 2015-16.

“Over the past several months, I have taken a lot of time to deliberate what is best for me,” Allen said in a statement released through the office of his agent, Jim Tanner. “I’ve ultimately decided that I will not play this NBA season.”

Allen’s future has been the source of incessant speculation since last summer, so much so that at one point Tanner felt compelled to post a message on social media and deny widespread reports that the future Hall of Fame sharpshooter had signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Washington Wizards, who have a need for a reliable 3-point shooter, were among the teams linked to Allen. The guard’s relationship with Paul Pierce, who joined the Wizards this season, was seen as a selling point.

Ray has received enormous interest from a number of NBA teams throughout this season,” Tanner said in the same statement. “We will communicate with interested teams as Ray makes a decision for the 2015-16 season.”

Allen turns 40 on July 20, though he’s long prided himself on keeping an extremely high level of fitness. Many of his social-media posts in recent months have been directly related to either his workouts, his passion for running or to encourage others to become more fit.

Allen is a 10-time all-star who was part of the Boston Celtics’ title run in 2008 and the Miami Heat’s in 2013 — the season when he hit one of the biggest shots in  postseason history, a overtime-forcing 3-pointer from the right corner with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 of that season’s Finals against San Antonio.

The Heat won that game, then prevailed in Game 7 for their second consecutive crown.

He also played for the Heat in 2013-14, then became a free agent and will stay that way — for now, anyway.

“I’m going to take the remainder of this season, as well as the upcoming offseason, to reassess my situation, spend time with my family and determine if I will play in the 2015-16 season,” Allen said.

Allen’s 2,973 3-pointers lead the NBA’s all-time chart by a wide margin, 413 ahead of Reggie Miller and 928 up on Jason Terry, who is third on that list.

Allen — the former UConn star who played for Milwaukee and Seattle before moving on to Boston and Miami — also ranks among the league’s career leaders in free-throw percentage, minutes played, games played, points and field goals made.

In exactly 1,300 regular-season games, Allen averaged 18.9 points. He also averaged 16.1 points in 171 postseason contests.

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