The Milwaukee Bucks reached a surprise contract extension on Tuesday with the somewhat newly acquired Grayson Allen according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Allen, who was acquired via a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies over the summer, is expected to start alongside Jrue Holiday in the backcourt until Donte DiVincenzo returns from his injury. However, DiVincenzo recapturing his starting spot was far from a forgone conclusion and he might be even more likely to come off the bench now that Allen was the one who signed the extension.
Tuesday was the deadline for members of the 2018 draft class—which both Allen and DiVincenzo are a part of—to sign a contract extension or enter the offseason as restricted free agents. While DiVincenzo’s contract situation is much more complicated, Milwaukee was able to agree to a two-year, $20 million deal that will kick in for the 2022-23 season.
Although $10 million a year might seem a little steep for Allen’s services upon first glance, it could end up being good value for the Bucks.
For starters, the reported deal is typically higher than the actual numbers especially when it comes from the player’s agent (which it did in this case). Jim Owczarski reported the deal is worth up to $20 million with some team and player incentives. That’s an important distinction that will be worth monitoring when the official numbers are released.
Even if we take the $20 million at face value, that means Allen will make about $9.6 million in 2022-23. To put that into perspective, he’ll be the 64th-highest paid guard next year, not accounting for future extensions or signings. He’ll actually get paid less than guys like Alec Burks, Reggie Jackson, Josh Richardson, Luke Kennard, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Despite all of this happening without him playing a single regular season minute with the Bucks, the returns look promising.
On paper, he’s a great fit alongside the other Bucks’ starters. He doesn’t require the ball in his hands to make an impact, instead, preferring to play off-ball and feed off the massive defensive attention the likes of Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo will attract.
He’ll mostly be a catch-and-shoot three-point sniper, making defenses pay for packing the paint to stop Milwaukee’s stars. That alone is an offensive upgrade over DiVincenzo who has struggled with an inconsistent shot throughout his NBA tenure (even if DiVincenzo’s offensive game is much more diverse, it’s not as well-served on this Bucks’ squad). Overall, Allen has made 38.1 percent of threes throughout his career including at least 39 percent in each of the last two years.
Allen isn’t afraid to pull the trigger and can do so while coming off down screens, in dribble-handoff situations, and on the break. Holiday and Antetokounmpo actively searched him out throughout the preseason and will likely continue doing so when the games begin to matter.
Defense is going to be the biggest question mark. At his best, Allen is an average defender who is capable of guarding other twos but can sometimes move up or down a position. He doesn’t necessarily have the positional diversity the Bucks want when implementing their switching scheme. However, there were question marks about Bobby Portis on that end of the court a season ago and he worked hard to prove he can hold his own.
If Allen can prove himself as someone who can stay on the court past the second round of the postseason, it will be a huge win for the Bucks. If the starters stay the same, it’s clear who opponents will target in a unit consisting of Holiday, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. That Allen-Lopez duo should be prepared to work diligently in the pick-and-roll game in order to prepare for the playoffs.
Considering the Bucks’ cap situation, their best chance at adding talent to their team is the process they just completed with Allen: send a few picks and contract of a player who isn’t in your long-term plan to acquire a guy you can re-sign using their bird rights. Their bill is only going to get higher and higher, but adding a player of Allen’s caliber for, at most, $10 million a year, should prove to be a good value.