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NBA Trade Rumors: Boston Celtics Must Fill Ray Allen Void with Jamal Crawford

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Jamal Crawford #11 of the Portland Trail Blazers dribbles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Bradlee RossCorrespondent IIJune 26, 2012

The Boston Celtics are about to begin a rebuilding period. Both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen are free agents, and it may be difficult for the Celtics to bring both back.

Jamal Crawford is the answer for replacing Allen.

According to Chris Haynes, Portland Trail Blazers Insider for CSNNW.com, Jamal Crawford is being shopped by the Trail Blazers, and three teams have emerged as contenders to get him. The Celtics appear to be in the best position to get him, with two first-round picks and a ton of cap space.

Crawford signed a two-year deal with the Blazers last year for $10 million, with a player opt-out clause for after this year. If he isn’t traded, he appears ready to opt out and see what free agency can bring him.

The guard’s production dropped off while he was in Portland. He averaged fewer points, shot worse from the field and played less minutes. But that doesn’t mean that Crawford is washed up. He simply didn’t fit in Portland.

It was clear that the team didn’t like him, and he didn’t like the team. Along with Raymond Felton, he contributed majorly to the firing of head coach Nate McMillan and seemed to be a constant distraction off the court.

However, he did shoot a career-high 93 percent from the free-throw line and averaged around 14 points per game off the bench for Portland last year.

Ray Allen is reportedly very interested in joining the Miami Heat for next season, according to Gary Dzen of the Boston Globe. So the Celtics should definitely get Crawford to replace him as a guard who can come off the bench and contribute quick offense.

Another added benefit of Crawford is that he comes fairly cheaply. Under his current contract, Crawford is only being paid around $5 million annually. That’s far less than the Celtics would have had to pay Allen to stay, and it still will be even if Crawford gets a new deal.

Much like Allen came off the bench toward the end of the year last season, Crawford would do the same. Avery Bradley would continue to start for defensive purposes, and Crawford would be the sixth man that the Celtics have needed for so long. That mix could work, especially in a culture like the Celtics have—a veteran-laden and leadership-heavy one.

Crawford was a distraction in Portland, but guys like Garnett and Rondo won’t let that happen in Boston. Crawford will be forced to fall in line, and that might be the best thing for him. It would certainly be the best thing for the Celtics, as it would finally give them a scorer off the bench who can lighten the load on Paul Pierce and company.

Ray Allen may be headed out, but the Celtics shouldn’t be worried as long as they can replace him with Jamal Crawford.

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