Grizzlies to retire Allen’s number – eventually

The Memphis Grizzlies announced that the franchise will eventually retire the number of Tony Allen, who signed with the New Orleans Pelicans as a free agent this offseason.

The team had previously announced similar plans for Zach Randolph, who signed with the Sacramento Kings over the offseason. Allen and Randolph comprised half of the Grizzlies’ “Core Four” along with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.

Allen, who signed a one-year, $2.3 million deal with the Pelicans, will return to Memphis on Friday for the preseason finale and again next Wednesday for the teams’ regular-season opener. He averaged 8.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in seven seasons with the Grizzlies.

“Tony was a driving force behind the Grizzlies’ seven straight playoff appearances and he remains a beloved member of the Memphis community,” Grizzlies owner Robert Pera said in a statement. “Tony played with a level of passion that is unrivaled. He helped establish a Grizzlies culture focused on toughness and effort, and he challenged every player that put on Beale Street Blue to match his fiery intensity.

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank him for his incredible contributions to the Grizzlies and the unique way that he inspired the city of Memphis. We are proud that the Grindfather’s #9 jersey will hang in the rafters of FedExForum alongside Zach’s one day.”

The Grizzlies reportedly did not make an offer to Allen or Rudolph during free agency, despite stated desires from both players to return. Allen earned All-Defensive honors in six of his seven seasons with Memphis.

“Tony will forever be one of the Core Four responsible for the turnaround in the Memphis Grizzlies’ fortunes and our surge in popularity,” Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said in the statement. “There would never have been seven straight years of playoff appearances, the incredible electricity in FedExForum for home games, ‘Grit and Grind’ and ‘Believe Memphis’ without Tony Allen’s contributions to the team. In the process Tony became more than just one of the toughest defenders in the league — he became a true cult hero who was intertwined with the soul of Memphis like few athletes ever have in any city. Tony and his family will be missed but his impact on the Grizzlies and Memphis will never be forgotten.”

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