With some players expressing concerns with respect to heading to the “bubble” in Orlando, the league has created provisions to allow for roster flexibility and player freedom.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the NBA is planning to allow teams to bring up to 22 players for the resumption of play. They can also sign players that had a G League or NBA deal either this year or last year.
This means Crawford and Smith are eligible to sign.
Players who have signed an NBA/G League deal this year or a previous year are expected to be available to sign in restarted season — making Jamal Crawford or JR Smith eligible, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. https://t.co/v6Ntr4pb2t
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 11, 2020
Both veterans have been seeking a job all season. Despite some linkage with a number of clubs, neither has had any luck.
Crawford has been especially insistent on his desire to return. The 40-year-old spent the 2018-19 season with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 7.9 assists and 3.6 assists per game.
Might J-Crossover get another opportunity in the Association?
Here are three teams that might consider signing Crawford for the NBA restart.
3. Orlando Magic
The Magic will begin the restart as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. They have a good chance to advance straight to the playoffs or even move up to the No. 7 seed.
However, the Magic could use some added offensive firepower. Orlando ranks 27th in scoring and 24th in offensive rating, per Basketball Reference.
Moreover, Orlando’s backcourt lacks a playmaking, combo guard like Jamal Crawford. Sure, Evan Fournier spaces the floor, and Terrence Ross can put the ball in the hoop. But neither can run the pick-and-roll like Crawford. The same can be said for the defensive-minded Michael Carter-Williams.
Signing Crawford would give the Magic a ton of guard players. But they desperately need someone who can create their own shot off the dribble. Crawford is that guy.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are 13th in scoring, but just 20th in offensive rating.
Dillon Brooks has been tremendous for Memphis, and might even deserve more recognition for Most Improved Player. But the Grizzlies could use more depth at the two-guard.
Josh Jackson played well in his stint with the team prior to the suspension of play, but he cannot create off the dribble like Crawford. Plus, he is more of a true small forward. Grayson Allen simply will not cut it at the two.
The Grizzlies could still keep Brooks as the starter or even run he and Crawford together. Crawford could also spell Ja Morant if Taylor Jenkins wants to go with a bigger lineup.
1. Indiana Pacers
This one seems a little more straightforward.
Victor Oladipo really struggled in his return from injury. The Pacers are already down Jeremy Lamb. Justin Holiday has been a decent defender and excellent floor-spacer, but is not the same kind of scorer as Jamal Crawford.
The Pacers are an exceptional defensive team, and rim protectors like Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis can make up for Crawford’s deficiencies on the perimeter. Plus, Sabonis’ abilities in the screen-and-roll would match up superbly with Crawford.
Indiana could be a sleeper in the Eastern Conference if they string things together. But they should look into signing Crawford to infuse more scoring and playmaking in the backcourt.