Jae Crowder saw himself as part of a crowded wing spot in Boston. Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward were obviously going to start at the two and the three, but after them Crowder, Jayson Tatum, at times Marcus Smart, and even Semi Ojeleye could get some run on the wing. Were there enough minutes to go around?
At his introductory press conference in Cleveland Thursday, Crowder explained what happened when he told the Celtics about his concerns.
“I had a little concern because we had a lot of wing players stacked up. I was a little concerned, and I made it clear to the organization that I was concerned about it and I just wanted some more direction, you know? I think they gave it to me with the trade. They gave me what they wanted to do. They showed me what they wanted to do. I respected it.”
Boston is betting big on Tatum and Brown to develop and take up the 3&D role that Crowder filled well. That could take another year or two of development, but Danny Ainge has always had the Celtics playing the long game. The Celtics have so many picks and assets, they can still get players to fill roles (perimeter defense, as well as rim protection, are still question marks).
The Celtics could afford to move on from Crowder, despite his skills and great contract. But getting him is a big win for Cleveland.