No, you don't get it, Jamal Crawford REALLY wants to stay in Atlanta

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gyi0060335030.jpgIt’s quite clear that Jamal Crawford much prefers an extension from Atlanta to the idea of becoming a free agent next summer. For a variety of reasons, the Hawks are (wisely) reluctant oblige. That hasn’t stopped Crawford from grandstanding to Hawks management at every opportunity, most recently with this enthusiastic play to the Associated Press:

Crawford will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. He had a quick answer when asked what he’s looking for.

“What do I want? I want to be here,” Crawford said at the start of the Hawks’ training camp.

love being here. I LOVE being here. I had a ball every time. I felt
like I was at a concert performing every time I played here. It was
just a lot of fun.”

Most NBA players know what they want, but rarely are they quite so forthcoming. There’s no posturing at this point. Crawford simply wants to be a Hawk for the long haul, and he’s shouting it from the rooftops.

I’m sure Crawford’s long-term financial security is a factor in his preference, but his enthusiasm makes me think that his experience with the Hawks last season really is his primary motivation. Crawford was given free reign to operate as he pleased last season, and while many potential free agents are looking to lock-in to a contract under the new CBA, Crawford may simply be looking to sign a long-term deal in a comfortable setting.

For a guy who has spent most of his career getting the scoring opportunities he wanted on teams playing for lottery odds, the success of the Hawks — middling though it may be in the grand scheme of things — must be intoxicating. Crawford just wants to ride that wave a bit longer, even as the Hawks are threatening to cut him off.

Report: Rockets will try to sign Alessandro Gentile next summer

Alessandro Gentile, Paulius Jankunas
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The Rockets tried signing Sergio Llull this summer, but he opted for a long-term extension with Real Madrid.

So, they’ll just turn to another player in their large chest of stashed draft picks – Alessandro Gentile.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Gentile, who was selected No. 53 in the 2014, is a 22-year-old wing for Armani Milano. He’s a good scorer, but he primarily works from mid-range – an area the Rockets eschew. He can get to the rim in Europe, but his subpar athleticism might hinder him in the NBA.

If Gentile comes stateside, he’ll face a steep learning curve. But he’s young enough and talented enough that he could develop into a rotation player.

Report: Hawks co-owner made more money by exposing Danny Ferry’s Luol Deng comments

Michael Gearon, Bruce Levenson
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A terribly kept secret: Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. wanted to get rid of general manager Danny Ferry.

Many believe that’s why Gearon made such a big deal about Ferry’s pejorative “African” comment about Luol Deng – that Gearon was more concerned about ousting Ferry than showing real concern over racism.

Gearon had another, no less sinister, reason to raise concern over Ferry’s remarks.

Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

While Gearon felt that Ferry, as he wrote in the June 2014 email to Levenson, “put the entire franchise in jeopardy,” Gearon also figured to benefit financially from a Sterling-esque fallout.

In the spring of 2014, Gearon was in the process of selling more of his interest in the team to Levenson and the partners he had sold to in September. The agreed-upon price for roughly a third of Gearon’s remaining shares valued the Hawks at approximately $450 million, according to reports from sources.

“We accept your offer to buy the remaining 31 million,” Gearon wrote in an email to Levenson on April 17, 2014. “Let me know next steps so we can keep this simple as you suggested without a bunch of lawyers and bankers.”

Approximately five weeks later — just a little more than a week before the fateful conference call — Steve Ballmer agreed to pay $2 billion for the Clippers, a record-smashing price that completely changed the assessed value of NBA franchises. Gearon firmly maintains he was acting out of the sincerity of his convictions to safeguard the franchise from the Sterling stench, but such a spectacle also allowed him to wiggle out of selling his shares at far below market value.

Gearon and his legal team later challenged the notion that the sell-down was bound by any sort of contractual obligation and that any papers were signed. Once the organization became involved in the investigation, the sale of the shares was postponed.

Arnovitz and Windhorst did an incredible amount of reporting here. I suggest you read the full piece, which includes much more background on the Gearon-Ferry rift.

Considering the Hawks sold for $850 million, Gearon definitely made more money than if he’d sold his shares at a $450 million valuation.

Did that motivate him? Probably, though it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Most likely, his actions were derived from at least three desires – making more money, ousting Ferry and combating racism. Parsing how much each contributed is much more difficult.

What Ferry said was racist, whether or not he was looking at more racism on the sheet of paper in front of him. His comments deserved punishment.

But if Gearon didn’t have incentive to use them for his own benefit, would we even know about them? How many other teams, with more functional front offices, would have kept similar remarks under wraps or just ignored them?