The Los Angeles Clippers are in unfamiliar territory looking ahead the 2014-15 NBA season. Once the joke of their home city, they are now the surer of the two options in Los Angeles with an infinitely brighter short-term outlook. While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are indubitably the center of the spotlight, NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford can’t be forgotten as an important piece in the mix.
The 34-year-old veteran is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. In 69 games, Crawford put up 18.6 points, 3.2 assist and 2.3 rebounds per game while shooting 41.6 percent from the floor and 36.1 percent from three. Crawford’s value as a sparkplug offensive player, another ball-handler, and player that can create his own shot can’t be overestimated in the success the Clips have had in recent years.
However, Crawford is looking for a bit of long-term security as he’s seemingly entering the twilight of his career. Crawford has a team option in his current deal for the 2015-16 season and can get an extension next summer. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo!, the veteran gunner is looking to get that extension next summer, whether it’s from the Clippers or another team.
The “another team” aspect is the most intriguing bit from all of this. Wojnarowski also reports that the Clippers have put Crawford on the table in discussions regarding various sign-and-trade scenarios to acquire free agents, including Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes. Given Crawford’s value to the Clippers, that’s telling of how invested the organization is in signing a quality free agent.
While taking Crawford out of the lineup would demand a drastically different look from the Clippers, they have a desperate need for quality depth in their frontcourt which a guy like Hawes could address. Moreover, it’s understandable why the franchise wouldn’t want to give a player who will be 35 years old next summer an extension, even if he showed no sign of decline this past season.
From the other side of things, Crawford could be a huge asset to a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers who would be on the receiving end of any sign-and-trade for Deng or Hawes. Especially with the departure of C.J. Miles and with Jarrett Jack being tossed into trade rumors of his own, having an explosive and dynamic sixth man like Crawford in the lineup could help them take another large step towards making the postseason.
After seeing Crawford’s hand in the Clippers’ rise to prominence, it’d be strange to see him finishing his career in another uniform. However, with what Los Angeles needs at the moment and the stage that the veteran guard is in regarding his career, it’s not wholly surprising that his name is out there in sign-and-trade discussions. Ultimately, we’ll see if the Clips deem it worth it to part with Crawford to get that kind of deal done.