MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Tony Allen made his first public appearance Friday since he re-upped with the Memphis Grizzlies on a four-year deal earlier in July, setting the nine-year veteran shooting guard up to retire right where he says he wants to. Allen spoke with media before closing out his third annual Grit And Grind Basketball Skills Academy at Colonial Park United Methodist Church.
Here are three observations from Allen’s availability, only days back home from his honeymoon.
1. Happy to bring a fellow champ (back) to FedExForum
Close losses in an otherwise successful — and historical — playoff run made it clear that Memphis needed a shooter. That seemingly wasn’t accomplished in the draft and as shooters came open on the market, other teams snatched them up as Memphis sat still.
That ended Wednesday, when former Grizzlies sharpshooter Mike Miller came home, literally.
Miller, amnestied by the Miami Heat after a second straight NBA championship, is still invested in Memphis. He spent time here from 2002 to 2008 and still owns a house in Memphis. Miller was limited in Miami to 15.3 minutes per game, though he started four games in the Finals and is a career 41 percent shooter from deep — 44 percent in 2013 NBA playoffs.
“He’s lights out, so I’m glad to have him,” Allen said.
It’s a simple answer to what was simply a problem. Memphis ranked near the bottom in 3-point percentage, dead last in 3s made.
Allen may be trying to bring another shooter to Memphis, namely former Celtics teammate Delonte West. He brought it up on Twitter in reply to a post about the Grizzlies’ needs Thursday and said Friday he was “just speaking out, being silly.”
“Everybody knows what the Grizzlies need until they get out there and put on a uniform,” Allen said, then smiled. “I responded to one of them. They said we needed a back-up point guard. He’s available. I would love to have him.”
There are still moves to make, but Allen isn’t going too far into the management business just yet. He says he’ll go to camp with the players his bosses put there with him.
“They’re moving how they’re moving. I’m with the movement now,” Allen said. “I’m rolling with whatever they put forth on the table. It’s GNG over here, 110 percent.”
2. What would the reaction have been if the Grizzlies let Tony Allen walk?
Campers at the church gym were paying full attention until it was almost time for Allen to arrive. Then they began to sneak as close to the front door as possible to get a look at The Grindfather. Allen’s mother couldn’t even enter the building without some fanfare from the kids. When Allen came, they gathered around him like other NBA teams did the moment he became a free agent.
Allen has repeatedly said he bleeds Grizzlies blue. He also bleeds the city of Memphis blue. He assured fans before re-signing that his heart was here. He continues to prove that. Allen has back-to-back public appearances and signings Friday and Saturday. Like Miller, he is invested in Memphis. And his heart is in more places than on the court.
“This is where my heart is at. If you followed me through these last three years, my whole thing was being about the youth,” he said, “having a way to put them in positive spirits in a positive direction.”
3. Jocks in Tennessee are being picked on, Allen says
It’s become a hot topic in Tennessee, the “jock” tax. The state has three professional sports teams — excluding minor league baseball. Of the three, the Memphis Grizzlies and Nashville Predators are subject to the tax. Players are taxed $2,500 for up to three games they play in the state. Allen doesn’t agree with the tax, taking up for players making less than the reportedly $20 million contract he just signed.
While it doesn’t sound a big deal to outsiders looking at players making nearly $500,000 a year, Allen says it adds up.
The money goes toward venues like FedExForum and Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, which officials say helps ease some of the taxpayer costs, as well as bring in non-sports related events. The issue could bring rifts between venue management and the pro teams they work scheduling with. Allen attended to the matter Thursday.
“The NBPA, they do a great job of informing us when these types of things are going on. If you’re not looking at your checks, you wouldn’t know where these little taxes are coming from,” Allen said. “All I did was let them know I won’t be having it. I look back when I was one of those guys getting lower income.”