By: Christian Dudley (@ChristianDudley)
Though he was sitting on the sidelines with an injury in the postseason, the Memphis Grizzlies' Tony Allen showcased another solid season in M-Town.
The Memphis Grizzlies did not reach the NBA Finals for the first time in their franchise history, but not all was lost in the 2016-17 season.
The squad clinched a playoff birth for the seventh consecutive year. Marc Gasol was named an All-Star once again. Mike Conley is finally receiving the credit he has deserved for years, though not being named to the Western Conference All-Stars. Memphis defeated all the top teams throughout the regular season. Head Coach David Fizdale showed he is head coaching material.
The list goes on. It was a good season for the 2016-17 Memphis Grizzlies as they finished with a winning 43-39 record; however, a tough first round matchup with the second-best team in the West halted the momentum.
Looking into the current offseason for the Grizz, as well as the impending free-agency period, one of the biggest names becoming a free-agent will be Tony Allen.
Allen has occupies a large reason for the Grizzlies' team success since joining the club in 2010. He brought his championship-winning defensive capabilities from Boston to Memphis and instantly aided the town in securing victories.
Yes, Tony Allen A.K.A. The Grindfather will deservingly have his jersey retired by the Memphis Grizzlies organization some day, but the looming question today is whether they will be able to bring him back on another contract.
Tony appeared in 71 games for the Grizz this season, including 66 starts, as a guard/forward specialist. Due to inexperience at the backup point guard position, there were a few times in which TA made a cameo appearance as the Grizzlies' playmaker when Mike Conley needed a breather.
TA provides more than just a stellar defenseman. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, which is the second-highest and highest averages, respectively, he has posted since joining the Memphis Grizzlies. He also recorded 1.4 assists and 1.6 steals per contest.
Though Tony Allen had an ever-changing role this season, he saw 27 minutes per outing -- also the highest of his veteran 13-season NBA career, as was his previously stated rebounding average. At 35 years of age, TA is still bringing the pain, which the Grizzlies assuredly missed from him in the NBA Playoffs.
For years now, M-Town has been looking for enhanced outside shooting. Though center Marc Gasol provided a lot of the team's outside scoring out of nowhere, Allen is still not a reliable option in this regard. He ended the season at a 27.8% clip from long-range and 47.9% from the field overall.
All in all, TA logged a 13.3 Player Efficiency Rating. The offensive end of the floor made a direct hit on this number for The Grindfather; however, statistics -- even advanced categories -- will not fully display the benefit of an active Tony Allen.
Will Tony Allen return in Beale Street blue in 2017-18? The Grizzlies' Front Office has plenty of items to mull over in the coming weeks. They had been paying The Grindfather a steal of a deal -- making $5,505,618 this season. Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which took affect last summer, has provided a rise in player contracts.
How does the league perceive TA's services now? Will these tough injuries become a regular happening for him as he enters his 14th season?
These are questions all NBA teams will be asking themselves as they determine how large of a contract to offer Allen, and most importantly, the Memphis Grizzlies will be asking the same. A fluke injury in Game 82 of 82 versus the Dallas Mavericks could be the last moment Tony had in a Grizzlies uniform.
Grizz Nation must acknowledge Allen's departure could be very real, though the best news is Tony Allen remains very committed to Memphis. Recently as a guest on Sports Nation, he proclaimed "my heart bleeds blue, I'm a Memphis Grizzly."
Memphis will need bargain deals to complete their roster the upcoming 2017-18 season after securing major payouts for Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Chandler Parsons in the past two offseasons.
Contributors at Blu3 World Order have pieced together their opinions to assess Tony Allen's 2016-17 season. Take a look at the grades and explanations.
Trisity Miller: "Asking Tony Allen to be better at age 35 is setting yourself up for failure. Anything revolving around Allen is centered on his ability to create havoc on defense, leaving everything else committed a plus. I don’t know if Allen will be back. I don’t know if I necessarily want him back, especially if Memphis finds themselves in a position where keeping Allen could mean losing JaMychal Green or Zach Randolph (or both). But in the event Allen does return, what needs to improve is nothing on his end and everything on the team’s end, where Coach Fizdale needs to find a consistent role for him. It’d be unfair to ignore context, knowing the indecisiveness in Allen’s role is tied deeply to Memphis’ 1) injury woes and 2) absence of talent but if he comes back, the two sides need to agree on what he’ll be to this team. It’s something that bleeds over when trust issues show their face, namely in bad stretches and the team reverts into their pity shell, pitting the coach against a Memphis city who loves few things more than TA. That shouldn’t matter for a coach, but it’s a small thing I can’t help pay attention to.
A small blip on his play from last season, let’s just say it’s easy to be hard on Allen when every year Memphis is without the shooting threat (get well soon, Chandler!) we’ve wanted for years. Allen’s still a useful guy, skillset and energy wise, and as long as Memphis can place capable wings beside him, I think we’d worry less about what he is unable to do and can full-out enjoy the theatrics that bring us joy, missed layups aside. Grade: C+."
Brendan Smart: "Unlike past seasons, Tony Allen really sacrificed for the team. Whether it be getting benched during slumps to get minutes for guys that were hot at the moment, to showing a bit of his offensive game that Grizzlies fans know is rare from him. Unfortunately injuries plagued Allen's season, especially when it seemed he got in a since groove. If this was in fact Allen's last season in Memphis, he made it a memorable one. The Grindfather had an above-average season in the 2016-2017 season."
Christian Dudley: "My grade for TA in 2016-17 is a B. You have to wonder how much greater the Grizz would have been with a healthy Grindfather against a San Antonio Spurs club featuring Kawhi Leonard. Memphis rarely contained Leonard in the first round series, and Allen is the one guy on the roster who could have shut off the water. Moving forward, you have to wonder who can be that guy if the Grizzlies would decide to not bring TA back...and at that point, you picture why Memphis must retain him."
Do you agree with our panel? Tweet us on Twitter (@Blu3WorldOrder) and share your thoughts!