NBA Rumors: Heat Officials Believe Jae Crowder Prefers Trade to Miami

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 12, 2022

DALLAS, TX - MAY 12: Jae Crowder #99 of the Phoenix Suns. looks on during the game against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Semifinals on May 12, 2022 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

Jae Crowder played for the Miami Heat during the 2019-20 campaign, and team officials reportedly believe he will eventually return.

The Phoenix Suns already mutually agreed they would attempt to trade Crowder, and Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports reported "Heat officials have even expressed confidence Miami is Crowder's preferred destination."

Fischer also noted it is widely believed that Crowder wanted to stay with the Heat following the trip to the 2020 NBA Finals, but the team didn't want to sign him to the three-year, $30 million deal he asked for.

He also reported the Suns want players instead of draft picks in any Crowder deal, which tracks because they are very much in win-now mode after making the 2021 NBA Finals and finishing with the league's best record in 2021-22.

The core of Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton remains among the top in the NBA, and adding draft picks for the future wouldn't help capitalize on this window.

From Miami's perspective, Crowder could help replace P.J. Tucker, who signed with the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason. Their games are fairly similar as two-way forwards who are willing to defend the opponent's top players and battle for boards even without a high number of shots on the offensive end.

Crowder averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 34.8 percent from deep for the Suns last season. He was more effective as an offensive player for the Heat, averaging 11.9 points with a 44.5 percent shooting clip from deep during 20 regular season games in 2019-20.

Yet it is the defense that stands out, as opponents shot 0.3 percent worse than their normal averages when he guarded them last season, per NBA.com.

That would play well alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry because they could focus more of their efforts on the offensive side.