Tony Allen returns to Grizzlies with contract that was merely a formality

Ronald Martinez

You didn't really think the Grizzlies would let Tony Allen go, right? In the end, they kept him with a fair contract that appropriately values his unique skill set.

Grit 'N Grind will remain in Memphis for the foreseeable future as the Grizzlies agreed to a four-year, $20 million contract to keep Tony Allen in town.

This is about as fair a deal as you can possibly find in free agency. Allen is essentially a basketball designated hitter; one of the league's best defensively, one of the league's worst offensively. That he signed for just under the average salary therefore makes a ton of sense.

The new deal may actually be a bit of a bargain when you consider other external factors. Allen is incredibly important to the Grizzlies' culture, making him more valuable to them than he would be to another team. He also could have been wooed by other teams with full mid-level exceptions and needs for wing defense, like the Clippers, Nuggets or Rockets. (The Bucks, based on Allen's Twitter binge on Tuesday night, also seemed prepared to make a competitive offer). That the Grizzlies were able to secure Allen for less than the mid-level exception given those circumstances is impressive.

The only downside is the length. Four years is a bit long for a 31-year-old, and I suspect Memphis may have preferred a shorter contract with higher annual value if the choice was presented to them again.

One thing to note: now that Allen is back for the foreseeable future, it's essential that the Grizzlies find better ways to hide his liabilities. New coach Dave Joerger will find it just as challenging to leave Allen on the floor for more than 25 minutes a game as Lionel Hollins did unless the Grizzlies can find better shooting at the other wing position. One option would be to elevate Quincy Pondexter to the starting lineup. Another would be to figure out some way to sign-and-trade for a shooter like Kyle Korver, especially if it means somehow sending out Tayshaun Prince (unlikely). Either way, Memphis should be very careful playing Allen consistently with another non-shooter, as it cramps the team's already-poor spacing even more.

Those are coaching decisions, though. At the end of the day, retaining Allen was necessary for Memphis, and they did it at a fairly reasonable price.

GRADE: B+

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