By Ben Golliver
July 02, 2013

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Free-agent guard Tony Allen is returning to the Grizzlies, according to multiple reports.

Yahoo! Sports and USA Today Sports reported that Allen has agreed to a four-year, $20 million deal.

"Thank you Lord for all that you've done and all that your doing in my life," Allen tweeted. "I am so grateful and humbled. I'm on my Grizzly."

Allen, 31, averaged 8.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.5 steals per game for the Grizzlies last season. He was an All-Defensive first-team selection for the second consecutive season while helping lead a Memphis defense that ranked No. 2 in the NBA.

Even with new ownership, new management and a new coach -- assistant Dave Joerger was promoted to the top job last month -- the Grizzlies had every reason to keep the bulk of their roster together. This was the most successful Grizzlies team ever, one that advanced to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history, a group that has no real age concerns and features a core that enjoys excellent chemistry. Why not run it back?

Allen, who might embody the Grizzlies' "grit and grind" mentality better than any other single player, was the only key rotation member facing a free-agent decision this summer. Despite his limitations as a perimeter shooter and the overall hit-or-miss nature of his offensive game, Allen's tireless work ethic and elite perimeter defensive abilities made retaining him a high priority. One key benefit of shipping out Rudy Gay in advance of the trade deadline was that the move put the Grizzlies in a position that would allow them to attempt to re-sign Allen without risking luxury-tax penalties. This deal accomplishes that goal, giving management a bit of breathing to fill out the end of the bench.

The free-agent negotiating period opened on Monday. Contracts can't be signed until July 10.

GRADE: A-.   This has been about as close to a perfect fit as you will find between player, city and franchise. The final price -- $5 million per year -- is less than players like Kevin Martin and J.J. Redick have agreed to sign for this week, perhaps reflecting Allen's incomplete offensive package. This deal will carry Allen past his 35th birthday, and a three-year deal or a team option on the final year clearly would have been preferable. It's quite possible the Grizzlies agreed to go longer on the deal in exchange for keeping the per-year salary number a bit lower. If that's the case, it was a worthwhile trade-off, as every million or two helps given the franchise's other major salary commitments to Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and Mike Conley. While that final year could prove to be problematic, the Grizzlies' window is now and Allen is an integral part of their present and immediate future.

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