NBA Rumors: Jamal Crawford wants to play in Cleveland


Jamal Crawford probably isn’t happy about his situation with the Clippers — ominous tweets do a pretty good job of illustrating such, with the most obvious being his want to be a free agent at the moment.

So where does Crawford want to be? If Chris B. Haynes of is correct, the former two-time Sixth Man of the Year wishes to be alongside LeBron James and company in Cleveland. “I know Jamal personally, and I know he would definitely like to be a part of the Cavaliers’ organization,” said Haynes to Chris Fedor of “Sports Insider”.  “Jamal is one guy off the top of my head that I know would be a fit, and I know that they’ll be looking at him.”

“They want to use that exception for a wing player.”

I have zero NBA sources but I can guarantee wanting to be in Cleveland isn’t an unpopular mindset — who wouldn’t want to play with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love in the Eastern Conference?

The exception Haynes speaks of is the trade exception acquired by the Cavaliers late July when they traded center Brendan Haywood and wing Mike Miller to the Portland Trail Blazers to cut luxury tax costs — $2.845 million (Miller) and $10.522 million (Haywood).

What Haynes doesn’t make clear — he possibly doesn’t know — is whether the Cavaliers would go to the lengths to use half of the Haywood exception (Crawford’s 2015-16 salary exceeds the Miller exception — $5.675 million to be exact, per Spotrac) to acquire Jamal. Based on his words throughout the video, how hastily the Cavaliers front office seek a replacement will be based off whether they receive ample production from the reserve wing unit, namely J.R. Smith who the team remains in contract negotiations with after the former Knicks guard decided to opt out of a deal worth $6.4 million for the upcoming season. If the Cavaliers and Smith come to an eventual agreement, the need for Crawford lessens, even when ignoring Smith to be the superior all-around player when compared to Crawford.

Nov 27, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford (11) guards New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, Smith being good isn’t a guarantee, on and off the court, and Haynes says the franchise is prepared if things go awry. “If he’s not playing at the level or he’s just doing something out of the realm of the team concept,” continued Haynes, “then they can go look at guys like Jamal Crawford.”

“I know Jamal personally, and I know he would definitely like to be a part of the Cavaliers’ organization.” – Chris Haynes, of

From a fit standpoint, Crawford is a worse one than Smith in Cleveland, in my humble opinion. While Smith’s inability to be replacement-level in this past NBA Finals has likely left a bad taste in the Cavs’ front office’s — and fans — mouth, his ability to spot-up without complain, defend sub-par wings (when trying) and seldom playmake trumps what Crawford can deliver the Cavaliers. The bigger issue is finding time for Crawford to have the ball in his hands — what he likes most — alongside LeBron or a Kyrie Irving. And the worst of it all? More Crawford would mean less Iman Shumpert (covers elite guards so Kyrie doesn’t have to) and less Kevin Love on offense if David Blatt is unable to hedge minutes as to where the two are never on the floor at the same time. To put it simply, there are numerous directions Cavs general manager David Griffin could go in to improve an already-contending team, with Crawford not being one of the best.

A better fit for the Cavs? While I can’t pinpoint a particular player that could fit into either exception, a 3-and-D wing should be their number one priority if unable to find someone a step above the tier. Against the Warriors in the finals, the Cavs’ lack of depth at the wing came back to bite the organization, especially as Smith’s numbers fell off the cliff; Shawn Marion and Mike Miller helped none and James Jones, while helpful, has a fatal flaw in his ability to defend wings. Richard Jefferson, if playing like the wing we saw in Dallas last season (5.8 points, 44-42-68 splits, 2.5 rebounds), helps but at age 35, if a high-risk candidate that could suffer under the gruesome effects of Father Time as Miller and Marion did. Outside of Jefferson? Without Smith re-signed, they’ve no James insurance for the time being, and through the regular season, could stumble upon a better — and younger — option than Mr. J. Crossoer.

And then there’s the other side of it: the Clippers actually trading Crawford, something that has been rumored dating back to last season. We recently wrote about the idea of not trading Jamal Crawford, regardless of the overlap of talent that needs the ball to be effective on the Clippers’ bench — namely, Crawford, Austin Rivers, Lance Stephenson, and Josh Smith. The biggest of the three reasons proposed? Being insurance to ‘Born Ready’, who’s coming off his worst season as a professional; in the very capable instance Stephenson fails to be what head coach Doc Rivers envisions, Crawford could remain with the franchise to ease such.

The good news in all of this, for both parties in Crawford and the Clippers — and possibly the Cavaliers if they’re truly interested in the wing — is Jamal’s future will completely in his hands next season as he hits the free agent market as an unrestricted free agent. Next summer, when teams have a ton of money

At least Crawford can look at it like this: only 300-ish days until he’s freed from the Clippers. Until then? Jamal’ll just have to suck it up and create a mirage of positivity until that day comes.

Next: Los Angeles Clippers: 3 Reasons to Keep Jamal Crawford