After boosting his value by helping the Miami Heat reach the NBA Finals, Jae Crowder is sure to be a compelling target in free agency with multiple suitors. The 30-year-old forward found himself bouncing between a few teams before finding a solidified role with the Heat, becoming a reasonable part of head coach Erik Spoelstra’s system that was successful in crushing some of their challenging Eastern Conference opponents.
Crowder also saw a jump in his statistical averages with the Heat. The Marquette University product may not be an all-in-one talent that can thrive in any system, but it was apparent that his talents weren’t being used properly during his time with the Memphis Grizzlies. During the 2019-20 season with Memphis, he shot a dreadful 29 percent from 3-point range, which isn’t on par for being even an average 3-point marksman in today’s league. After being traded to the Heat, his 3-point shooting skyrocketed to 44 percent while hovering around the same attempts per game (5.9 with Memphis to 6.4 with Miami).
Ever since his days as a member of the Boston Celtics, Crowder has also been known for his defensive presence as well, making him an alluring trade target in yesteryears. During his time with the Heat this season, he averaged 1.3 steals per game, his highest mark since his 2015-16 season with the Celtics. When picturing a valuable 3-and-D player that can provide a spark, Crowder frequently should come to mind.
Crowder signed a five-year, $35 million contract back with the Celtics that’s carried over into his time with the Heat. In the 2020 offseason, that price will surely rise, even if it’s not with the Heat, seeing as how they’ll be looking to land a marquee name first before addressing other needs.
Here’s a few teams that Crowder could possibly sign with at the start of the offseason.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks front office has already stated to Giannis Antetokounmpo that they’re more than willing to spend well into the luxury tax in order to bring in more talent to surround the MVP. While they’ll likely be looking to land bigger names first, the Bucks will likely take a look at the eight-year wing. Milwaukee already has a player with a similar skill set in Wesley Matthews, though it’s to a much lesser production.
Matthews only averaged 7.4 points per game while shooting 36 percent from 3-point range through 24.4 minutes. While the money works out in the Bucks’ favor in terms of resigning Matthews, the results won’t yield much success as it didn’t this year.
Jae Crowder gives a defensive presence that Antetokounmpo would appreciate as well. Causing turnovers while being able to transition to open threes on offense is a specialty of Crowder’s, giving the reigning Defensive Player of the Year another option besides Middleton from beyond the arc.
2. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks will head into the offseason with money to spend. A player such as Jae Crowder may actually be at the top of their list in terms of boosting their winning percentages. The Hawks boast a strong set of young talent that they’ll likely to develop into a hopeful contender similar to the route the Golden State Warriors took with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors also spent quite a few dollars on veterans that could be of service to their young, talented core in the locker room more so than what they could produce on the court.
The fit could work perfectly for Crowder as well, seeing as how he’s likely looking to get a big bag for the first time in his career. He’ll clearly put up career numbers with the Hawks once more, as he’ll be a heavy option on offense as the Hawks search for additional firepower.
With players such as John Collins and De’Andre Hunter coming up slowly as rising stars, they could learn a few pointers from a savvy defender such as Crowder as well, furthering their development in becoming better two-way stars in the future.
1. New York Knicks
This signing would also put Crowder into a mentoring role, though this time alongside RJ Barrett. Although the Knicks are known as big spenders coming into the offseason, they’ve also stated that they’ll be looking at which players can best fit with Barrett as well. While Crowder could serve as an influential boost in terms of energy on the floor for Barrett, he also adds talent to a wing spot in desperate need of it.
The Knicks have been the lovable losers since the Carmelo Anthony days, which may soon come full circle if Anthony decides to return to the Big Apple. However, if the Knicks are able to land Crowder along with Anthony (possibly contingent on successfully trading for Chris Paul), they instantly could find themselves in the talks of making a playoff appearance for the first time since 2013.
On top of that, the Knicks will be able to match the asking price that comes with Jae Crowder as well, making him one of their top targets.