Tony Allen signing brings defense and experience, but not spacing to Pelicans
NEW ORLEANS — It’s official. Though the secret has been out for a few days now, the New Orleans Pelicans announced the signing of veteran guard/forward Tony Allen.
By team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Allen is known as one of the NBA’s toughest defenders. In 13 seasons, the 35 year old is a three-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, as well being Second Team All-Defense three times as well (including each of the past two seasons).
He spent the last seven seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he embodied the team’s “Grit and Grind” persona. He also won a championship as a key reserve for the 2008 Boston Celtics, where he played with Rajon Rondo.
With the loss of Solomon Hill, possibly for the season, the Pelicans were in search of another perimeter defender. Allen is one of the best in the business.
On the surface, Allen is a slight upgrade from Hill on the offensive end. Though 10 years older, Tony Allen outshot (.461 to .383), outrebounded (5.5 to 3.8), and outscored (9.1 to 7.0) Solo.
However, Allen is one of the worst three point shooters in the league, carrying a career 28 percent shooting percentage from beyond the arc. Allen does his best work around the rim, utilizing cuts to get himself open. More than 65 percent of his shots last season came within three feet of the rim.
The Pelicans, whether by design or not, have spent the offseason accumulating players with postseason experience. Allen (112), Rondo (96), Ian Clark (32), and Perry Jones (12) bring a combined 252 playoff appearances to the roster. The remaining seven players on the team have a total of 88.
The one thing that have not accumulated is a small forward. Dante Cunningham’s status remains up in limbo and the Pelicans have worked out a collection of retreads to no avail.
At times, it seems as if the Pels are building a roster out of desperation as much as need. Unfortunately, what they need may not be available at this point. And, with training camp creeping closer and closer, the uncertainty of the small forward position is one of the reasons that pundits don’t see the Pelicans taking a giant step forward.
Hopefully Allen still has enough tread on his tires to make a contribution, but floor spacing is a necessity with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, and that is still this team’s greatest weakness.
No amount of grit or grind can change that.
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Sports 1280am host/CCS reporter
David Grubb has more than a decade of experience in the sports industry. He began his career with KLAX-TV in Alexandria, La. and followed that up with a stint as an reporter and anchor with WGGB-TV in Springfield, Mass. After spending a few years away from the industry, David worked as sports information director for Southern University at New Orleans…