This has seemed to be the season father time finally started to catch up with Jamal Crawford. For 18 previous seasons, Crawford seemed to be unbothered by age — in part because his crossover is timeless — and he could just go get buckets. That skill made him a three-time Sixth Man of the Year. It made him valuable.
This season, those buckets have been harder to come by — he is scoring less than a point per possession on offense for the first time since his rookie season, and his true shooting percentage of 49.1 is well below the league average. He rarely gets to the rim anymore (five percent of his shots), he’s still solid from the midrange, but he’s shooting just 30.2 percent from three. Combine that with going from a playoff Timberwolves team (and the Clippers before that) to a Suns team trying to rebuild and it was a rough season for Crawford.
Don’t for a second think all that has Crawford contemplating retirement, as he told Gina Mizell of The Athletic.
“Oh, no,” Crawford told The Athletic following Monday’s shootaround. “That’s the part I hate — the perception because of how things went this year. You may look at the numbers and (see) I’m only taking six shots a game. I think it’s to be applauded (for me to) say, ‘Hey, when I go in, I’m not going to jack up every shot.’
“This is the most assists I’ve averaged (since 2008-09). I’m truly trying to see others grow. I think we should look at that part of it. I’m passing more than I ever have.”
Crawford will be a free agent next summer and he knows after this season he’s not lined up for another massive payday. What he wants is a place he can contribute.
“Fit will be important for me. I’m an acquired taste. I get it. What I bring to the table is an acquired thing. This is the first year since 2002 I haven’t averaged double figures. (I did it) 16 straight years. I’ve won two out of the last five Sixth Man (of the Year) Awards. I think fit is so important for me.”
There will be teams — playoff teams loaded with veterans who know how to play — looking for a little punch off the bench and they will want to see if Crawford can still give it to them.
That fit may be with a team willing to talk future front office position for him. That’s where Crawford wants to transition to after his career, learn that side of the business.
Just not next year. He’s got a few more crossovers in him.