Free agent Tony Allen is finalizing a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 11, 2017
Allen, an All-Defensive second team selection last season, will be expected to fill at least the "wing stopper" role vacated by the injured Solomon Hill. A minimum contract for Allen clocks in around $2.3 million but will count just $1.5 million (the two year minimum) against the Pelicans in terms of the salary and hard cap. The difference is thanks to a CBA rule guarding against veterans being priced out of the league.
Given their previous estimated space under the hard cap of $5.4 million, this leaves Dell Demps roughly $3.9 million of wiggle room to bring on a second wing. Dante Cunningham, who remains an unrestricted free agent and declined a $3.1 million player option in June, in the most obvious candidate. If not Cunningham, expect the Pelicans to target a combo forward in a similar vein who can play both SF and PF.
As for Tony Allen, despite his advanced age (turns 36 in January) the man can defend. Known as the "Grindfather" in Memphis, Allen is certain to bring an attitude that fans have found sorely lacking from recent editions of the Pelicans. Last season Allen averaged 9.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.6 steals. To compare, Solomon Hill posted 7.0 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 0.9 steals — despite averaging more minutes per game.
Allen is a notoriously inconsistent shooter and lacks NBA 3-point range. Spacing issues are likely continue. He's smaller than Hill and plays more SG-SF than Hill's SF-PF. However, Allen comes with the reputation and hardware of a defensive stopper well beyond Solomon Hill. In the absence of Hill and with the options available, Dell Demps pursed and signed the one free agent remaining with a legitimately elite skill, defense.