Jamal Crawford is one of the more high-profile players left on the open market. Crawford, 39, is coming off his 19th NBA season and has played for eight teams (Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Phoenix Suns).
With NBA training camp around the corner, many teams have their rosters set and may not be looking to add to their core. At the same time, regardless of their organizational direction, every team could use fine tuning. While retirement is likely on the horizon for Crawford, he can still lift an offense and be a rotation fixture for both a winning and rebuilding team. He’d also likely come at a minimum salary.
Here are three ideal landing spots for Jamal Crawford.
How about going back to where it all began to raise the next generation of rumbling Bulls?
Jamal Crawford began his NBA career in The Windy City and has played in a multitude of roles since entering the league. He’s adept at making things happen with the ball in his hands, whether it be creating separation, using his handles to cross up defenders, or hitting outside jump shots.
The Bulls have one of the best young cores in the NBA and one that has budding scorers in Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and potentially Coby White. But they have little to no veteran scoring in their rotation outside of free-agent signee Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr., if you consider him a veteran. Having a veteran scorer such as Crawford coming off the bench would enhance head coach Jim Boylen’s offense.
Plus, Crawford could be a great mentor to younger guards such as LaVine, White, and, if he remains with the team, Kris Dunn. The Bulls should be getting their youth on the floor whenever possible, but they also need a well-versed offense with veterans to lean on. Crawford checks both boxes for Chicago.
One issue here is the Bulls effectively have a full roster of guaranteed contracts, but if they wind up trading Dunn or there’s some other move, perhaps Crawford will be on their radar.
Golden State Warriors
Despite Kevin Durant’s departure and Klay Thompson’s injury absence, the Warriors will contend in the Western Conference this season after retooling with the free-agent acquisition of D’Angelo Russell. With that said, they need more scoring, and Jamal Crawford would be a savvy pickup.
Last season, Crawford put up just 7.9 points per game, mostly due to a limited role on a Suns team prioritizing the growth of its young wings. But he’s still quick, can create separation, and would enhance head coach Steve Kerr’s bench. Sure, they have depth inside and some athletic wings such as Alfonzo McKinnie, Damion Lee, Alec Burks, and Glenn Robinson III, but they don’t have a scoring jolt on their bench.
Now, Crawford isn’t going to come in and wreak havoc, but he’d instantly be their most proven bench scorer and can handle the rock. The Warriors need someone who can run the show and create offense when Russell and Stephen Curry are off the floor.
The Warriors want to maximize Curry’s prime, and that means bringing in star talent, as well as veterans who have played and excelled in big moments. Meanwhile, the veteran probably wants to play for a contender as his career comes to a close. This is a move that likely will not happen now because of the financial restraints involving the luxury tax and hard cap, but perhaps it can happen midseason.
Even with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green departing in free agency, the Raptors should be a playoff team, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be striving to surprise people and make noise in the playoffs. However, they’re devoid of many true scorers. He’s not a bona fide No. 1 or 2 scoring option anymore, but Jamal Crawford would boost Toronto’s offense.
While Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson are bang-for-the-buck signings, the Raptors need more athletic and/or isolation scorers to keep pace with other playoff contenders in the conference. Crawford’s knack for getting the ball in the cup would make those signings more effective, and he could potentially play a big-minute role.
The Raptors don’t have a top-flight scorer. Sure, they have a lot of players who are either athletic or find ways to get crafty buckets, but there’s no alpha dog or true No. 1 scorer in their rotation. Crawford wouldn’t assume such a role, but he’d alleviate some of the pressure on their bench to pick up the slack when the first unit comes off the floor.
With Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol hitting free agency after next season, this is likely the last hurrah for what’s left of the Raptors’ core. Why not add to the veteran arsenal with a veteran scorer? Crawford likely prefers to play for a competitive team. It’s a great fit for both parties, and Toronto can make the necessary roster space for the move.