Veteran guard Jamal Crawford is reportedly "Cleveland's to lose" in free agency, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, who added, "Crawford would play for the Cavaliers if they offer him the full $5.2 million they can pay to any free agent."
Crawford, 37, has had a busy offseason. He was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in the three-team deal that landed Danilo Gallinari with the Los Angeles Clippers. But he was able to negotiate a buyout with the Hawks, leaving him as an intriguing free agent for teams seeking veteran help off the bench.
Crawford thanked the Hawks on Friday for allowing his buyout to proceed:
Vardon reported that the Cavs have interest in the newly-minted free agent, writing, "Crawford reached out and spoke recently with LeBron James, which a source said stoked Crawford's interest in playing for the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions."
He also reported that the Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers are also interested in the veteran guard, however. And signing Crawford to the mid-level exception "would complicate—and possibly prevent—the Cavs from bringing over Cedi Osman from Turkey. The team would need to use a portion of its exception to pay Osman, sources said."
It will be an interesting decision to make. Crawford remains an infusion of offense coming off the bench, averaging 12.3 points in 26.3 minutes minutes per game while shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc. With Iman Shumpert reportedly on the trade block, Crawford could earn minutes on the wing along with sharpshooter Kyle Korver in the team's rotation.
For a Cleveland team fairly limited in the upgrades they can make due to salary-cap restrictions, adding Crawford would bolster the team's depth and experience as the Cavs seek to take the title back from Golden State.