defensive pitbull guard-forward Tony Allen had minor surgery over the summer to repair cartilage in his knee. His recovery is going to run right up against the start of training camp, but Allen made it clear that he’ll be good to go for the season opener on Halloween vs. the Clippers.
“I’m definitely getting myself back to being that thirsty dog,” Allen said. “I don’t want to rush it. But I’ll be back for the first game, Oct. 31, against the (Los Angeles) Clippers. I guarantee that.”
Allen should be an even bigger part of the team this season with O.J. Mayo having moved on to the Mavericks and Josh Selby and Tony Wroten still needing seasoning. The Grizzlies have their identity: defensive havoc-makers who can get out in transition and pound you inside. Allen’s a big part of that with his ability to force turnovers defensively.
The Commercial Appeal also touched on Allen’s contract situation. Allen cannot sign an extension with the Grizzlies because of the way the CBA is structured, and will be an unrestricted free agent next season.
“I can’t think about that. I have to let that play out,” Allen said. “When I came here, I did everything they asked me to do. I’ll keep it simple and let the organization make that decision. I don’t want to go anywhere.”
It’s going to be a tough decision for Memphis. Allen will be 31 next season. They’re already locked into big contracts for Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Mike Conley, and Marc Gasol. It will be a huge first test of Memphis’ new owner Robert Pera, should the NBA approve his bid (something that is not at all guaranteed at the moment), and his willingness to spend. The Grizzlies can bring back Allen even though they’ll be over the cap. But is Allen going to be worthy a hefty luxury tax bill for a team that is unlikely to contend for a title, despite being a top-five team in the Western Conference? It’s a big decision, and could tell us a lot about how Pera intends to run the team.
In the meantime, Allen’s going to be healthy and ready to cause mayhem on Halloween. That’s something everyone should be happy about.