Jamal Crawford was the Clippers’ only reliable reserve last year.
Now, he’s on a suddenly loaded team that projects to start Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and bring Crawford, Austin Rivers, Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson, Josh Smith and Cole Aldrich off the bench.
Is Crawford excited? Maybe.
But he also wishes he were a free agent.
Let’s not mistake Crawford’s desire to be a free agent for him being a malcontent.
If he were a free agent, he might re-sign with the Clippers. He’d probably get more than the $5,675,000 he’s owed next season – or at least more security with a long-term deal.
He’d also get the freedom to choose his team. He might see himself as somewhat superfluous with Rivers and Stephenson.
As is, the Clippers can trade him anywhere without giving him a say. (And they might.)
Most players probably wish they could be free agents now. John Wall certainly does, and that has nothing to do with him wanting to leave the Wizards. This is a summer to make money, and there’s the freedom of choice that always exists with free agency.
The Clippers present a good situation – just not so good that Crawford would reject the ability to explore the market on his own terms. That’s not only reasonable, it’s quite logical.
Depth along the front line was a serious issue for the Clippers last season. There was Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, then… Spencer Hawes.
Now the Clippers are going to have a couple very nice reserves, they are expected to bring back Ekpe Udoh.
Now come reports that the Clippers have landed Josh Smith. Michael Scotto of Sheridanhoops.com had it first, others have since confirmed.
The Clippers could only sign him for the league minimum (all they had left) but Smith was good with it since the Pistons still will pay him $5.4 million as part of their waiving and stretch of his contract. (What the Clippers will pay him will be offset from the money Detroit owes him.)
At that price, Smith is a steal.
Smith has his flaws, starting with his love of the three ball — he’s a career 28 percent shooter from three who last season knocked down a barely passable 33 percent with Houston. But coming off the bench, Smith is a massive upgrade for the Clippers — he provides physicality and defense, plus he can still get points and rebounds and defend at a quality level. He brings some legit depth and versatility to the Clippers front line, plus he has stepped up in the playoffs.
Doc Rivers the GM has really helped out Doc Rivers the coach this summer. The formerly anemic Clipper bench will now have Jamal Crawford, Lance Stephenson, Udoh (probably) and Smith (plus guys like Austin Rivers that will get some run).
When you talk serious NBA title contenders next season, do not leave the Clippers off the list.
Cavaliers GM David Griffin said the team was open to re-signing J.R. Smith, under the right set of circumstances.
Smith declined his player option for next season, and is an unrestricted free agent. He wasn’t much help during the NBA Finals, where his 24-of-77 shooting over the course of the six-game series played a part in the team’s downfall against the Warriors.
After adding some guard depth in Mo Williams, it was worth wondering if the Cavaliers had moved on from their interest in retaining Smith. But the team is reportedly intent on bringing everyone from last year’s squad back if at all possible.
Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Sources say Cavs remain intent on signing restricted free agent Matthew Dellavedova
Early indications are Cavs likewise have NOT abandoned JR Smith pursuit. They seem intent on keeping whole band together. And adding to it
The problem for the Cavaliers last season — in addition to the obvious, which were the injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving that left the team extremely shorthanded — was having “depth” that was incapable of providing anywhere close to a consistent level of production.
Mike Miller, Joe Harris, Brendan Haywood, Kendrick Perkins (and even James Jones to a certain extent) took up valuable spots on the roster, but weren’t trustworthy enough to earn significant playing time, when fatigue was clearly a factor during the championship series.
There are other moves that Cleveland is considering, like bringing in Jamal Crawford in trade from the Clippers. But it appears as though they’d like to bring back the rest of the guys who played heavy minutes in the rotation last season, too, as long as the price is right.