Free agency is a wicked dance of news leaks, negotiation and overpayment, and the Philadelphia 76ers—so early in the process, no less—had the audacity to sign an unheralded player to a completely reasonable deal without hesitation, posturing or a bloated contract.
I'm not sure where Rod Thorn got the nerve, but while all eyes were trained on Joe Johnson trade rumors, the Sixers quietly signed Allen to a two-year, $6 million deal. Not bad for a 2011 second-round pick, and not bad for a team short on bigs to lock up a good, young defender at a discount.
Allen is, in a way, Elton Brand's intangible shadow. He'll never be the scorer that Brand was, but he's a decent rebounder despite his lack of size, a good mid-range option and a solid interior defender. He's held back a bit by his lack of height and length, but that doesn't make him easy to back down on the block.
If anything, his added mobility only makes him even more useful in defending pick-and-rolls, and he complements the rest of Doug Collins' defense beautifully. Allen is no standout, but considering how thin the Sixers were up front this season (and postseason), he was an essential component and a valued defender against the likes of Carlos Boozer, Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass.
Which makes it all the better for Philly that they were able to keep a solid 22-year-old defender when every team in basketball is in need of a defensive-minded big man. Allen may not be the shot-swatting, board-slapping prototype, but he's tremendously useful in the right context—and Philadelphia happens to be just that.