NBA Free Agency: The Five Teams That Need Jamal Crawford the Most
This offseason has been intriguing in many different ways, even with a less than prolific free-agent market.
Chris Paul was traded to the Lakers, then that deal was vetoed by commissioner David Stern and all of the players involved were returned to their previous teams. Then, Portland Trail Blazers' shooting guard Brandon Roy announced his retirement to the shock of the country.
The Detroit Pistons bought out the face of their franchise for nearly a decade, Richard Hamilton. David West was basically signed by the Celtics, and then ended up signing with the Indiana Pacers. And of course, Dwight Howard asked to be traded to the New Jersey Nets.
But that is not nearly it for this extremely shortened post-lockout player movement period. There are still plenty of marquee NBA players that have yet to sign with a team for this upcoming season, and one of those players is shooting guard Jamal Crawford, who was most recently with the Atlanta Hawks.
Crawford has nearly unlimited range and is one of the most coveted free agents still on the market, with a bunch of teams vying for his services. Let's take a look at which of those teams could use Crawford the most:
5. Denver Nuggets
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Crawford would be a great fit in Denver especially because the Nuggets' two best shooting guards from the 2010-2011 season, Aaron Afflalo and J.R. Smith, will most likely not be with the team this season.
Afflalo is a restricted free agent but will probably sign elsewhere this offseason because many teams around the league are enthralled by his scoring ability and athleticism. He is also a very good defender.
Smith signed with Zhejiang Wanma of the Chinese Basketball Association in September and the contract has no opt-out clause meaning Smith can't leave China in the middle of the season and join the Nuggets.
Without these players, the Nuggets are incredibly thin at the shooting guard position and signing Crawford would really sure up that position for them and would give the Nuggets efficient offensive production that they haven't had since trading star small forward Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks last February.
4. New York Knicks
Crawford in his time with the Knicks at Madison Square Garden
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The system of Knicks' coach, Mike D'Antoni, is known for being fast-paced, high-octane in nature in which offense is promoted and defense is an afterthought. That is why Crawford would be a perfect addition for a Knick team which seemingly lost out on the two big prizes of this offseason -Chris Paul and Dwight Howard- but made a splash by completing a sign-and-trade with Dallas to acquire C Tyson Chandler.
Along with Amare' Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony, Chandler rounds out a dynamic front-court which is one of the best in the NBA. The main spot of weakness for New York is in the back-court at the point guard and shooting guard positions. The Knicks signed veteran PG Mike Bibby to provide another option at point guard but are still very thin at shooting guard with second-year player Landry Fields as the potential starter right now.
A signing of Crawford would also represent a reunion for the two parties as Crawford spent 4+ seasons with the team from 2004-08. Crawford's years with the Knicks were a microcosm for his whole career as Crawford scored a lot of points (20.6 PPG in the 07-08 season) but the Knick teams he was a part of didn't make the playoffs once.
Crawford would be a nice complement to the strong Knick front-court and he would provide another source of scoring for an already explosive team should he sign with New York.
3. Portland Trail Blazers
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The Trail Blazers are on obvious fit for Crawford as the team has faced some devastating news to begin the season which severely handcuffs the available talent on the roster for the beginning of the season.
First off, injury-prone but highly talented shooting guard Brandon Roy made the difficult decision to retire from the NBA due to a degenerative knee condition. Roy had been hurt multiple times in his young career and it is a tragedy his once-promising career had to come to an end at the age of 27.
Then the Blazers found out that star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge needed surgery to treat a heart condition which causes an irregular heartbeat. The procedure will cause Aldridge to miss one to two weeks of basketball so he might be ready to go when Portland opens the season on December 26th against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Finally, former 1st-round pick and draft bust, center Greg Oden, has suffered another setback in his recovery from reconstructive knee surgery and will miss a significant amount of time.
It is clear that the Blazers would love to add a dynamic scorer like Crawford to their team because of how much scoring will be missed due to the Roy retirement and Oden and Aldridge injuries. It would also make sense for Crawford to be interested in Portland because he grew up in Seattle and going back to play in his old timezone might be appealing to the shooting guard.
2. New Jersey Nets
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The Nets' pursuit of Crawford depends on how the rest of their offseason plays out as they are one of three teams linked to trade proposals with the Magic along with the Lakers and Mavericks. If they are able to trade for Howard before the season starts, the Nets might not have enough cap room to make a competitive offer to Crawford.
However, if the Nets aren't able to trade for the All-Star center, general manager Billy King will have the available cap room to offer Crawford a contract which he would want to accept. Playing with a star point guard like the Nets have currently in Deron Williams would be perfect for Crawford's game as Williams would be able to provide Crawford with open perimeter shot opportunities.
As a Nets fan, personally I would love a Crawford signing because he would provide us with a nice veteran presence in the locker room who can light up the scoreboard while on the court. However, at the age of 31, Crawford shouldn't be signed for much more than a 3-year deal worth around $6 million per season.
1. Charlotte Bobcats
Crawford (with ball) on the Hawks playing the Bobcats last season
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The Bobcats, who finished three games out of the Playoffs in the Eastern Conference last season, need a shooting guard like Crawford more than any other team in the entire NBA. After trading SG Stephen Jackson to Milwaukee as part of a draft-day trade in June, the Bobcats were left with barely any options at the shooting guard spot other than perennial reserve Matt Carroll and 1st-round pick Kemba Walker. Walker is more of a point guard than a shooting guard but he could play the 2 if the Bobcats needed him to.
As the Bobcats' majority owner Michael Jordan is widely known as being one of the best shooting guards and all-around players of all time, he will probably look for some help at the position that he knows best.
Crawford couldn't be a better fit for this Charlotte team as he provides instant offense and the Bobcats' were 29th in the NBA last season in total offense points-wise. Crawford would immediately help that ranking which would undoubtedly help the Bobcats win more games.