Tony Allen Focused On Grizzlies, Not Free Agency
LOS ANGELES — The opposing team’s most prolific offensive player isn’t all that Grizzlies guard Tony Allen appears passionate about shutting down these days.
Allen could be one of the NBA’s most coveted free agents this summer. And this is the time of year when media following teams heading into the offseason with money to spend start probing potential targets.
However, Allen continues to make his pending trip to free agency a nonissue and insists his focus is squarely on the Grizzlies making a deep run in the playoffs.
“I’m bleeding blue right now, so I haven’t thought past the Grizzlies,” Allen said when asked about the Portland Trail Blazers as a possible destination after a Grizzlies win Wednesday night in the Rose Garden. “I ain’t thinking about free agency. I’m thinking about a championship.”
Allen’s focus means he will be at his locker intently watching film of Kobe Bryant on Friday night before the Griz take on the Los Angeles Lakers. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated recently ranked Allen as the No. 16 free agent for 2013. He could easily be rated higher on NBA general managers’ lists after the postseason. Allen is second in the league in steals and is aptly backing up his All-Defensive first-team honor from last season.
Allen has made it clear he’d like continue the grit-and-grind movement he gave birth to in Memphis and retire with the Grizzlies. The main question is, how much will the team’s new management value Allen? He will earn $3.3 million this season, the final year of a three-year deal. Allen is sure to have plenty of suitors looking to instantly change a team’s defensive identity and willing to offer more than he earns now.
Although Allen tries to deflect free-agency talk, he clearly has criteria.
“Being in the right situation, being able to fit, being a piece moving forward in a team’s championship goals just being a priority,” Allen said. “And obviously, putting my family in a good situation. But for the most part, I don’t even think about it. I just go out there and play, play hard and let God take care of the rest.”
Point guard Mike Conley isn’t surprised by Allen’s approach — - one that is similar to that of coach Lionel Hollins, who hasn’t made an issue about working without a contract extension.
“We’re all about business,” Conley said. “Obviously, we’re chasing home-court advantage so we need every win we can get.”
Griz brass can strike a deal with Hollins, the franchise’s winningest coach, at any time, but there have been no contract talks. Hollins’ situation also appears to be headed toward the offseason.
Memphis is prohibited from negotiating with Allen until free agency begins in July.
Tip-in: Griz playoff tickets for the first two home games in their opening-round series will go on sale Saturday at noon. Dates and times of home playoff games will be announced after the regular season.
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