Portland Trail Blazers shooting guard Jamal Crawford reportedly told Phoenix Suns head coach Alvin Gentry and Suns announcer/former player Eddie Johnson before Monday’s game that he wants to play in Phoenix next season.
That’s all well and good, Jamal. Go ahead and sell out your Portland teammates by openly telling the opposing coach you “need to be (in Phoenix)” next year. Suns fans won’t complain because they know that the team needs all the help it can get.
But if Suns management thinks that adding Crawford to the current roster is the puzzle piece needed to keep two-time MVP Steve Nash, they’re crazy.
Crawford can certainly shoot and create his own shot, but at what cost?
So far this season with the Blazers, Crawford has shooting splits of 38.4/30.7/92.9. Aside from the stellar numbers at the charity stripe, those numbers leave a lot to be desired.
Additionally, Crawford’s numbers this year are down nearly across the board when compared with his career averages.
This season, Crawford is averaging 13.8 points, 3.2 assists and two rebounds per game.
Compare that with his career averages of 15.3 points, 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds per game and I’m waving the red flag.
Remind me again how Crawford can be the major improvement to the roster that convinces Nash that the Suns can compete for the championship?
At 13.8 points per game, Crawford would technically be the second-leading scorer on the Suns roster this year.
However, every player on the Suns roster is shooting at a better clip than Crawford’s 38.4 percent (except backup to the backup point guard Ronnie Price, who is shooting the same percentage).
In fact, every player on the Suns roster barring Price and Michael Redd are shooting over 40 percent from the field.
Can those numbers be attributed to having Nash as a teammate? I think you’d be foolish to think otherwise, but it’s clear that Crawford is on the decline.
Crawford is now 32 years old. He’s certainly not going to be a guy who comes in and gets fans excited for the future.
In addition, Crawford's numbers have dipped every year since the ’08-’09 season, when he split time with the New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors. That year, he averaged 19.7 points per game with the Warriors and 19.6 with the Knicks.
The following season with the Atlanta Hawks, Crawford won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, scoring 18 points per game off the bench.
Last season, his numbers dipped significantly to just 14.2 points per game.
Now Crawford’s scoring numbers have bottomed out to the lowest since his third professional season at 13.8 points per game.
Why should the Suns have any reason to believe that Crawford will suddenly bounce back after regressing for three straight seasons?
If the Suns manage to hang onto Nash, Crawford’s numbers should get a boost by playing alongside him, but is he the missing piece on a team otherwise contending for a championship? Not a chance.
If the Suns brass take Crawford’s request to heart and go after him in free agency this offseason, they better have a plan to add one or two more pieces around him.
Even if the plan for next season is to make every move possible to keep Nash in the Valley of the Sun, the Suns still have to get younger.
Adding a 32-year-old journeyman who does little else but shoot (at a mediocre percentage, mind you), is not going to create a smooth transition into the rebuilding process.
In my opinion, the best the Suns can do in the offseason is add Eric Gordon.
Gordon is a 20-point-per-game scorer (a huge improvement over Crawford’s 13.8), and he’s just 23 years old.
Would signing Gordon convince Nash to stay?
They’d probably have to add at least one more solid player in free agency (and another in the draft), but this move makes more sense.
Gordon is a player who could help Nash compete now, while also becoming the face of the franchise for the future.
By contrast, adding Jamal Crawford will not be enough to convince Nash to stay. That I can guarantee.
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