Memphis Grizzlies

Tony Allen Not Looking To “Break The Bank” In Free Agency

While cornerstone pieces like Mike Conley and Marc Gasol remain under contract for multiple years, the Grizzlies will see some key players hit the open market this summer, including Tony Allen. Speaking today to the media after Memphis was eliminated from the postseason, Allen said he’s “not trying to break the bank” in free agency and is “confident” he’ll return to the Grizzlies, per Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal (Twitter link).

Allen had previously expressed a desire to stay in Memphis, likening the possibility of leaving to a “divorce” and suggesting that he didn’t want to think about that scenario. At the time, the veteran guard said that he’ll always be a Memphian even if he doesn’t re-sign with the club.

Allen, 35, is coming off his 13th NBA season, and has spent the last seven of those years in Memphis. His production has remained remarkably consistent during that seven-year stretch — he has never averaged fewer than 8.4 PPG or more than 9.8 PPG, and continues to provide the club with solid defense on the wing, though he missed the end of this season – and the playoffs – due to a calf injury.

Allen’s salaries during that stretch have also been fairly consistent. He earned $3MM in his first season with the Grizzlies back in 2010/11, and has seen that figure rise a little each year — he made about $5.5MM in 2016/17.

With nearly $93MM in guaranteed salary already on their books for 2017/18, the Grizzlies won’t have the flexibility to use cap room if they intend to re-sign Allen and/or Zach Randolph. Still, they hold Allen’s Bird rights, allowing them to offer him anything up to the max. Despite Allen’s assertion that he’d not looking to “break the bank,” another modest raise seems fair if he intends to remain in Memphis.

JaMychal Green, who is eligible for restricted free agency this summer, also said today that he hopes to return to the Grizzlies, indicating that Memphis “feels like home” for him (Twitter link via Tillery).

Poll: Which 2-2 Series Will End In Upset?

Last year’s NBA Finals combatants, the Cavaliers and Warriors, made quick work of their first round playoff opponents, dispatching the Pacers and Trail Blazers respectively in four games apiece. However, many of the other first round series around the NBA remain very much up in the air.

Currently, four series are tied at 2-2, with two of those Game Fives scheduled for tonight, and two more on tap for Wednesday. The Clippers and Jazz have each split their home games, resulting in a 2-2 tie, while the No. 7 seeded Grizzlies won two home games over the Spurs following David Fizdale‘s post-Game 2 “take that for data” rant, pulling even in that series. Those four teams will be in action tonight.

Over in the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 seeded Celtics find themselves tied with the No. 8 Bulls in an unusual series in which road teams are 4-0 so far. Meanwhile, the Hawks ripped through the Wizards‘ defense in two games in Atlanta, evening that series at 2-2. Both of those series will resume on Wednesday.

In each of those four series, the higher seed maintains the advantage, with two of the final three games on their home court. But most of those higher seeds don’t look as formidable as they did entering the postseason.

What do you think? Will any of these series result in upsets? If the Jazz are able to knock off the Clippers, should that series even be viewed as a legit upset, given the absence of Blake Griffin and the teams’ identical regular season records?

Vote below on which lower seeds will make it through the first round — you can pick as many as you want. After placing your vote, share your thoughts in the comments section!

David Fizdale, Marcus Smart Fined By NBA

The NBA handed out a pair of fines on Wednesday, docking Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale $30K for his post-game rant about the officiating following his team’s Game 2 loss in San Antonio. The league also fined Marcus Smart $25K for making an obscene gesture toward home fans during the Celtics’ Game 2 loss to the Bulls.

Fizdale was a lock to be fined even before his Monday night rant concluded with the “take that for data” line that instantly went viral. The Grizzlies head coach spent time after Monday’s loss pointing to the free throw discrepancy between the two teams, after Kawhi Leonard shot more free throws than the entire Grizzlies squad.

According to Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal and Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links), Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley sent Fizdale a text early on Tuesday morning thanking him for his comments. Conley and his teammates intend to reimburse Fizdale for the $30K fine as a sign of appreciation for aggressively taking a stand on their behalf.

Meanwhile, Smart received his $25K fine after TNT cameras showed Smart appearing to exchange words with a fan in Boston before flipping him the bird. Head coach Brad Stevens called the incident, which came midway through the fourth quarter with the Celtics trailing the Bulls by a 14-point margin, “unacceptable.”

Tony Allen Out Indefinitely

Tony Allen has been diagnosed with a strained calf and is out indefinitely, according to a team press release. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical notes (Twitter link) that the timetable for this sort of injury is roughly a month.

The Grizzlies play the Spurs in the opening round of the NBA playoffs and the team’s coaching staff is preparing for the matchup as if Allen will not be available, Wojnarowski adds.

San Antonio is favored to win the series against Memphis and if that outcome occurs, Allen may have played his last game for the team. The 35-year-old will be a free agent this offseason and he stressed that he wants to return. However, the Grizzlies are facing salary cap issues this summer, which could prevent them from offering Allen a fair-market deal.

Allen was one of the best perimeter defenders in the league this season. He ranks third among shooting guards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus and he ranks eighth among non-bigs in NBAMath’s Defensive Points Saved.

Tony Allen’s Future With The Grizzlies Remains Unclear

Tony Allen is a fan-favorite in Memphis, but since he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season, there’s a chance he finds himself playing for a team other than the Grizzlies next season.

“I don’t even want to think about that,” Allen said about the possibility of leaving over the summer (via Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal). “What I embody for this organization, everything that I embody, it would be almost like a divorce if I go somewhere.”

Memphis wants Allen back, but if the shooting guard is aiming for one last sizable deal, he may have to look elsewhere.

“I’ve already talked to the front office, and if it works out for us that we can have him back, I love him,” said coach David Fizdale when asked about Allen’s future “But I also know that we have to make some decisions based on what’s best for the unit. That’s where we’ll come together and we’ll see what’s on the table and we’ll give our input on what gives us our best chance moving forward.”

Next season, the franchise will pay approximately $74MM in salary to Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, and Chandler Parsons. The 2017/18 salary cap is expected to come in at $101MM, which doesn’t leave the Grizzlies with much salary cap space for its other dozen roster spots.

Allen, who turned 35 this season, was one of the best perimeter defenders in the league this season. He ranks third among shooting guards in ESPN’s Defensive Real Plus/Minus and he ranks eighth among non-bigs in NBAMath’s Defensive Points Saved.

It’s arguable that he’s the best perimeter defender in the history of the franchise. His playing style ushered in the team’s Grit-and-Grind era and the city of Memphis embraced the movement. Even if the era comes to an official end this summer, Allen will remain a part of the town.

“Even if I don’t sign here, I’m going to still live here,” he said. “I’m thankful, I’m glad that the city embraced me, my hard work and my work ethic. That’s what made that connection, that bond, that made me want to call myself a Memphian. You know I’m born in Chicago but I’m a Memphian.”

Allen is making slightly more than $5.5MM this season. I speculate that he could fetch a short-term deal with similar annual values in free agency. Given their cap woes, it remains to be seen whether the Grizzlies are willing to pay the market rate. Regardless, Allen knows where he wants to be.

“I really don’t know what’s going to happen, but what I do know is, my heart is here,” Allen said.  “That big ‘ol blue face, that Grizzly bear, that’s where my heart is.”

Community Shootaround: Shooting At The Buzzer In Decided Game

Count Courtney Lee among the latest NBA players to complain about opponents putting up shots in the final seconds of a decided game. On Friday night the Grizzlies laid waste to Lee’s Knicks, culminating in rookie Wade Baldwin IV standing at half-court with the ball and a 10-point lead as the game clock neared expiration.

Just before time ran out, however, Baldwin hoisted a deep three and nailed it. The basket pushed the Grizzlies above the triple-digit mark earning Memphis fans in attendance free chicken.

Lee, unhappy to lose by 10 but considerably angrier losing by 13, went after the rookie but was thwarted by a handful of Grizzlies veterans.

For him to do that, what are you doing it for, bro?,” Lee told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Think about the people who’s doing it. They got bad luck in this league. … I don’t know what made him want to do it.”

Lee’s reaction is a common one among NBA players but should it be?

Just last week Lance Stephenson incited his own commotion by adding a layup in the final seconds of a win over the Raptors. Then, Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan called the moot field goal “disrespectful to the game“. This, naturally, was followed up by Stephenson exposing an instance of DeRozan’s teammate Norman Powell doing similar to the Sixers earlier this season.

Ultimately, the NBA and fan community that drives it need to decide what is permissible in the waning seconds of a ball game and what’s just sour grapes. In response to the Stephenson/Raptors theatrics, Bobby Marks of The Vertical  tweeted “I’m so tired of these unwritten rules in basketball. If you don’t want a player to shoot at the end of the game then play some D.

On one hand, it’s easy to empathize with players like Lee or DeRozan who see the unnecessary field-goal attempts as salt in the wounds of a fresh defeat. On the other, its a thin line expecting everybody to subscribe to the same unwritten rules of a game.

Should players adopt Marks’ stance and play defense if preserving a spread is so important to them? Or should players on the winning end know not to shoot when the game is out of reach?

Factors to consider are that some veterans will go so far as to let the shot clock expire before hoisting a shot at the buzzer resulting in their being assigned a turnover. Another is the fan factor, such as that which was in effect for Baldwin IV. Reaching certain point milestones, usually 100 points, can sometimes trigger benefits for fans in attendance. Does this impact the appropriateness of a last second basket?

You tell us in the comments below!

Potential 2017 RFAs Whose Qualifying Offers Will Be Impacted By Starter Criteria

The NBA’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which will go into effect on July 1, 2017, includes a number of changes to the free agent process, including some that apply specifically to restricted free agents. However, one aspect of restricted free agency unaffected by the new CBA is what’s referred to as the “starter criteria,” which can affect how much an RFA’s qualifying offer will be worth.

Here’s how the starter criteria works: A player who is eligible for restricted free agency is considered to have met the starter criteria if he plays at least 2,000 minutes or starts 41 games in the season before he reaches free agency. A player can also meet the criteria if he averages either of those marks in the two seasons prior to his restricted free agency. For instance, if a player started 50 games in 2015/16 and 35 in 2016/17, he’d meet the starter criteria, since his average number of starts over the last two seasons exceeds 41.

A player’s ability or inability to meet the starter criteria can affect the value of the qualifying offer he receives as a restricted free agent, as follows:

  • A top-14 pick who does not meet the starter criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 15th overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A player picked between 10th and 30th who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the ninth overall pick would receive if he signed for 120% of the rookie scale.
  • A second-round pick or undrafted player who meets the criteria will receive a qualifying offer equal to the amount the 21st overall pick would receive if he signed for 100% of the rookie scale.
  • For all other RFAs, the standard criteria determine the amounts of their qualifying offers.

Extending a qualifying offer to a player ensures that a team has the right of first refusal if he signs an offer sheet, and gives the player the option of signing that one-year QO. Generally, the value of a restricted free agent’s qualifying offer isn’t hugely important, since very few RFAs accept those offers outright. Still, those QOs can have an impact on a team’s salary cap outlook during July’s free agent period, so it’s worth checking in to see which potential RFAs will be eligible for higher or lower qualifying offers this summer.

Listed below are the top-14 picks on track for restricted free agency who have not met the starter criteria. These players will be eligible for qualifying offers worth $4,187,598.

Len and Noel had the worst QO luck this season. As the fifth and sixth overall picks in 2013, they would have been in line for qualifying offers worth about $6.4MM and $5.85MM, respectively. Instead, their QOs will be worth less than $4.2MM. Both players were very close to meeting the starter criteria too — they’ve started 77 games apiece in the past two years, so they’ll fall just short of the 82 required.

The players listed below are non-lottery first-round picks who will meet the starter criteria. That will make each of them eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,588,840.

All four of these players were selected in the 20-26 range in the 2013 draft, and their QOs would’ve ranged from about $3.39MM to $3.22MM if they hadn’t met the starter criteria.

Here are the rest of the RFAs whose qualifying offers won’t necessarily be determined by the standard criteria:

  • Undrafted power forward JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) has met the starter criteria, putting him in line for a QO worth $2,820,497 instead of the more modest amount he would’ve received as a minimum-salary player.
  • Two players – Joe Ingles (Jazz) and Ben McLemore (Kings) – still have a chance to meet the starter criteria depending on how the season’s last four days play out. Ingles has played 1,848 minutes this season, meaning he would have to average about 38 MPG in Utah’s last four contests to reach 2,000, which is a tall order. McLemore may fall just short as well, as he currently sits at 79 starts over the last two seasons. He’ll need to start three of the Kings’ last four games in order to average 41 starts per year, but he has only been in Sacramento’s starting lineup twice since the start of March. (End-of-season update: Neither Ingles nor McLemore met the starter criteria.)

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 3/31/17

Here are Friday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • A day after sending them down, the Raptors have recalled Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet from the D-League, the team announced today (Twitter link). VanVleet and Siakam led the way with 24 and 22 points respectively in a Raptors 905 win on Thursday night.
  • Maurice Ndour and Marshall Plumlee also returned to the NBA a day after being assigned to the D-League, the Knicks announced (via Twitter). Plumlee had a double-double for the Westchester Knicks in a loss on Thursday, with 11 points and 11 boards.
  • The Grizzlies have recalled forward Jarell Martin from the D-League, according to a press release issued by the team. Martin’s assignment with the Iowa Energy lasted more than a month. For the season, he has averaged 15.9 PPG and 7.5 RPG in 22 games with Memphis’ D-League affiliate.
  • The Pacers have assigned rookie forward Georges Niang to their D-League squad, the team announced today in a press release. It’s the fourth assignment to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants this season for Niang.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 3/26/17

Check out Sunday’s D-League assignment and recalls:

  • The Pistons have recalled Henry Ellenson from their D-League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Drive, Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets. Beard notes that the rookie will be available for Detroit’s matchup with the Knicks on Monday.
  • The Cavaliers have assigned Larry Sanders to the Canton Charge, per Sam Amico of Amico Hoops (Twitter link). Sanders has only seen two minutes of action for Cleveland this season.
  • The Spurs have assigned Davis Bertans and Bryn Forbes to the Austin Spurs, according to the team’s website. Bertans has appeared in three games for San Antonio’s D-League affiliate, while Forbes has seen action in 18 contests.
  • The Mavericks have recalled Manny Harris and Jarrod Uthoff from the Texas Legends, Earl K. Sneed of Fox Sports tweets. Both players will see their respective 10-day contracts with Dallas expire at the end of the day on Tuesday.
  • The Rockets have recalled Chinanu Onuaku, Isaiah Taylor and Troy Williams from their D-League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, per the team’s Twitter feed.
  • The Grizzlies have recall Wade Baldwin and Deyonta Davis from the Iowa Energy, according to the team’s website. Baldwin has played in 33 D-League games this season, while Davis has seen action in 11 contests.
  • The Pelicans recalled Cheick Diallo from Greensboro, the team announced through a press release. Diallo, who has averaged 22.3 points over his last three D-League games, will be available for tonight’s match-up with Denver.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 3/21/17

Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • Veteran big man Tiago Splitter has been assigned to the D-League as part of his rehab process, the Sixers announced today in a press release. Hip and calf injuries have sidelined Splitter for the entire 2016/17 campaign so far, but there’s a chance he’ll get back on the court by season’s end.
  • The Grizzlies have assigned rookie big man Deyonta Davis to the Iowa Energy, the team announced today in a press release. With just a few weeks left in the 2016/17 season, Davis will be one of the last Grizzlies ever assigned to the Energy, since Memphis is poised to take control of a new NBADL affiliate next season.
  • The Celtics have sent Jordan Mickey and Demetrius Jackson to the D-League, according to the club (Twitter link). The Maine Red Claws don’t play until Thursday, so it’s possible the assignment is just for practice purposes.
  • Rookie forward Cheick Diallo is headed back to the Greensboro Swarm, the Pelicans announced today (via Twitter). With no NBADL affiliate of their own, the Pelicans are sending Diallo to Charlotte’s affiliate using the flexible assignment rule.
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