Many believed the Houston Rockets would keep Allen in the deal, but the Cavaliers swooped in and made their move. When Andre Drummond and the Cavs decided to part ways, the team gave Allen the keys to the starting center role.
The 23-year-old played 51 games in Cleveland, starting 40 of them. In those 51 games, he averaged 13.2 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game. His ability to defend the paint and run the pick n’ roll paired nicely with Cleveland’s backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.
The Cavaliers extended Allen the qualifying offer the other day, making him a restricted free agent. This means the Cavs can match any offer he receives, and most believe that the Cavs will be willing to pay Allen a ton of money. Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com reports that the Cavs “are going to give Allen $100 million or more in a contract extension” this summer.
All the reports lead to the belief that the Cavs will retain Allen. However, the player they are projected to select with the third overall pick in this year’s draft may not fit alongside Allen very well.
Cade Cunningham is all but locked in as the number one pick. Recently, reports have come out that the Rockets love Jalen Green at number two. This leaves Evan Mobley for the Cavaliers to take with the third pick. Jalen Suggs could be another player they target, but there are very few mock drafts that have Mobley falling out of the top three.
Running Mobley alongside Allen could pose some issues. Mobley could stretch the floor as a power forward, but ideally, he should be the starting center. If Cleveland decides that they would rather go all-in on Mobely, matching a massive offer for Allen might not be as enticing to them.
If for some reason the Cavs choose to run with Mobley as their center of the future, the Charlotte Hornets should throw as much money as they can at Allen. Stealing him from the Cavaliers would become priority number one at that point.
Defensively, adding Allen to the rotation would lead to an immediate improvement. Cody Zeller and Biscmack Biyombo showed their age on that end of the floor, and as hard as they try to stick with opponents, they just end up getting blown by. Allen’s shot-blocking ability and overall fearlessness in the paint would set the tone for Charlotte’s defense.
Allen would be an upgrade on the offensive end as well. LaMelo Ball is one of the best young passers in the league, so adding a legitimate lob threat would help him out immensely. The pick n’ roll with Ball and Allen would be nothing short of immaculate.
Most importantly, though, Allen would help with rebounding. The Hornets weren’t the worst team in the league by the number last year, but neither of their centers were good rebounders by any means. Having a 6-11 center in the paint that can gobble up boards would be amazing. Allen is also a decent passer, so he would be able to make the necessary outlet passes to start the fast breaks that Hornets fans have grown accustomed to.
Obviously, the Cavs are very high on Allen. Paying someone $100 million is no joke. However, the Hornets should offer at least that much if given the opportunity.
The $100 million that Cleveland is willing to offer could either be over four or five years. Most likely, it would be a five-year, $100 million contract worth around $20 million per season. That’s an offer the Hornets should give Allen without any hesitation.
Realistically, Charlotte should throw a four or five-year deal his way worth around $20-$23 million. That would be enough to make Cleveland think twice about matching the offer, especially if they are going to take Mobley third overall.
Adding a young, defensive-minded center to Charlotte’s young core would round everything out beautifully. A lineup of Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, PJ Washington, and Allen should be able to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Better yet, with the amount of youth on that squad, they should be competing for the playoffs for years to come.