The best defender Kobe Bryant ever faced finally signed in free agency.
Tony Allen has signed with New Orleans, The Vertical’s Shams Charania reported Monday afternoon. After seven seasons with Memphis, the 35-year-old lockdown artist will join the ninth-best defense in the NBA last season.
Allen averaged 27 minutes, 9.1 points, and 5.5 rebounds for Memphis last season, starting in 66 of the 71 games during which he saw time on the floor. Despite his advanced age, he again served as a defensive anchor, earning a second-team All-Defense nod. But Allen fell to the same offseason fate as fellow Grind-N-Grind stalwart (and now Sacramento King) Zach Randolph, effectively ending the most beloved era of NBA basketball in Memphis.
In late April, the man Memphis affectionately dubbed “the Grindfather” said he was “confident” in “believing” he would return to the franchise. “I’m not trying to break the bank,” Allen told Sports56 Radio’s Ronald Tillery. But by the fifth day of free agency, Allen removed any mention of the Grizzlies from his Twitter bio.
Now Allen joins a Pelicans team that can certainly make use of his defensive acumen (especially after the loss of starting small forward Solomon Hill for the next six to eight months) but is still very much searching for a way to open up space for its supersize frontcourt of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Allen, a 27.8 percent career shooter from deep, won’t help much on that front. In fact, a potential starting lineup of Rajon Rondo (30.4 percent career 3-point shooter), Jrue Holiday (36.6), Allen, Davis (29 percent), and Cousins (33 percent) would quite possibly be the worst 3-point-shooting lineups in the league. Good luck, Alvin Gentry!
Still, a shot of defense — and Allen’s Hall of Fame–level quotes — will always be a welcome addition, especially in this season’s Western Conference.