Right Now, the Knicks Can’t Afford Jamal Crawford


A common conversation among NBA fans? Discussing trade options involving their favorite team(s) and player(s).

With mention from New York’s media that the Knicks — Cavs, Heat were mentioned as well — are interested in Clippers shooting guard Jamal Crawford, two-time former Sixth Man of the Year, this has surely sent a margin of the Clippers fan base into “what can we get for Jamal mode?!?!”, a mode they’ve probably been in since trading for Lance Stephenson.

What do the Clippers want for Crawford?

What do the Knicks have to offer for Crawford.

Etc. Etc.

By my observations, unless a third team is involved in a potential discussion or Doc Rivers and the rest of Los Angeles’ front office wants to get tricky, the Knicks lack the assets needed to acquire Jamal Crawford from the Clippers. At least, right now they do.

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  • Going off who’s available for trade via ESPN’s trade machine, the Knicks can only send out Carmelo Anthony, Jose Calderon, and second-year players Langston Galloway and Cleanthony Early in a trade.

    Obviously Anthony isn’t available — at least for this particular trade. With the Knicks looking for pieces to bolster their future, it’s likely Early and Galloway too are not available, though they’d be easy to nab with the right offer — I don’t think Crawford it the piece New York would move either guy for (there’s a chance I’m overrated their value so let’s imo this one). This leaves one Jose Calderon available to the Clippers.

    Last season, the Knicks acquired Calderon in the Tyson Chandler trade to be the guard to run Phil Jackson‘s triangle offense. Given the past point guards who’ve filled in as the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers ran Phil Jackson’s offense (Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher come to mind), the role suited Calderon perfectly, bad defense and all — he could play-make, initiate the offense, and sit back as a spot-up guy when a better guy has the ball.

    Then injuries happened, as Calderon missed the opening games, returned, then missed the final 1 1/2 months of the season. In that time, Calderon has somewhat fallen out of favor, with Galloway assuming the starting gig, and with 2015 first-round pick Jerian Grant now in the picture, JC has competition for the backup role. Given how Grant’s development better serves the Knicks in the future than Calderon eating up minutes for the now, leaving the Spanish point guard in purgatory somewhat.

    Could the Clippers use Calderon? Of course — while Austin Rivers has the higher ceiling, Calderon would provide a constant presence as backup point guard (or could move Rivers to full-time backup SG), and would allow more time for Lance Stephenson and Josh Smith to dominate the ball more when on the floor, serving as a glorified, overpaid spot-up three-shooter. But because of his price, the Clippers can’t approach the Knicks with an offer of a 1-to-1 switch on the table, as Crawford is owed just short of $6 million in the final year of his contract.

    Dabbling with ESPN’s Trade Machine, a deal that does work involving Crawford and Calderon would be including 2014 first-round pick C.J. Wilcox, guard, into the deal to make salaries match. By any logic this would be a bad move for the Clippers, mortgaging their future in Wilcox — showed strides in the Summer League — for a minimal-at-best upgrade at backup point guard in Calderon, as it would hamper the team’s ability to upgrade their wing position in next season’s free agency thanks to Calderon’s contract.

    A first-round pick could make the Knicks’ offer more interesting but it’s unlikely Phil let’s go a first to unload Calderon, and giving Calderon’s value going into the 2015-16 season, would never include a first to unload Calderon by his lonesome unless a bona fide player is received in return.

    This is where things get tricky.

    As knowledgable of the NBA as I believe myself to be, without an inside source on the matter I — and others — have no clue on exactly what Doc Rivers wants to do with Crawford from a trade perspective. Given the free agent additions, to avoid any issue leading into the season, Doc and co. could agree to dump Crawford for low-salaried players and picks (likely second’s). Or he could hold out as Crawford’s expiring holds more value than it would have last season when he was a two-year guy, like Calderon is now.

    But as of now? The Knicks are short some pieces in their pursuit of Crawford, and sit behind the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers in the hypothetical “Jamal Crawford trade partners” rankings.

    Maybe this changes come mid-December when players signed this summer are available for trade. Until then, anything between the Clippers and Knicks involving Crawford is a long shot.

    Next: Can Lance Stephenson and Jamal Crawford co-exist in LA?