Allen hopes to bring toughness to Grizzlies
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen said Friday he's ready to bring defensive toughness and championship experience to his new team as it guns for the playoffs this season.
Allen signed a multiyear contract with the Grizzlies two weeks ago, leaving the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics after six seasons. He appeared in two NBA Finals against the Lakers, winning the title in 2008 and losing this past season.
Allen has averaged 7.2 points per game and 1.04 steals per game in his career. The 6-foot-4 guard is valued for his ability to cover the other team's best player.
Last season playoffs saw Allen defend Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and Dwyane Wade.
''I'm definitely going to try to start early defining a role, try to bring some sort of toughness to the ballclub,'' Allen said. ''It's obvious I have experience and I'm just looking forward to just letting that marinate amongst the players that's in this locker room.''
Allen joins a young team with a crowded backcourt. O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley are projected as starters, with Allen, Sam Young and first round picks Greivis Vasquez and Xavier Henry as possible contributors.
Allen, who was drafted by Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace when Wallace was with Boston, says he considers his arrival in Memphis as a fresh start.
''Being in Boston I was kind of overshadowed by those guys, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen,'' Allen said. ''Here's a ballclub who's on the rise and a lot of guys can make names for themselves. It's a coming out party for a lot of guys on this team.''
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has said he expects the team to make the playoffs. Last season, the once-woeful Grizzlies fell short of their first .500 season since 2006 and posted the second best improvement in wins behind Oklahoma City.
As a Celtic, Allen said he learned the importance of togetherness, a theme that Boston coach Doc Rivers preached throughout the playoffs.
Allen said Rivers pulled him aside in training camp and told him he was expected to be a defensive stopper. He expects to fill the same role with the Grizzlies, while also helping on offense.
''I don't mind embracing the role, but there is more to my game. Let's not get that twisted,'' Allen said. ''Whatever I could do to win ballgames. If that's just passing out Gatorades or flashing towels or giving somebody a high five, I'm willing to do that.''