Jamal Crawford made waves as the season began by asking for a contract extension, saying he wanted to be traded if he didn't get that extension, and then backing off those demands and playing out his last season under contract with Atlanta as its sixth man. His season wasn't far off from his career numbers but wasn't nearly as good as his 2010 campaign where he was recognized as the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.
Crawford finished with averages of 14.2 points per game on 42 percent shooting from the field. Crawford hit on 34 percent of his three-point attempts. In 2010 he averaged 18.0 points and shot 45 percent overall and 38 percent from long range all of which were career high totals. Under Mike Woodson, Crawford couldn't have found a better system to utilize his talents. He thrived in Atlanta's isolation system where he didn't have to worry about being confined into any type of offensive system.
When Woodson was let go by Atlanta, a lot of things changed for Crawford under Larry Drew. While Atlanta still ran some isolation, Drew asked Crawford to be much more of a point guard in his new motion offense which the veteran guard found difficult to balance his scoring opportunities while also being asked to facilitate the offense. Essentially when it comes to Jamal Crawford, he isn't that valuable on the floor if he isn't scoring. Crawford isn't enough of a play maker for others and is a liability on defense to warrant playing time when his fshot isn't going in. It was his presence that blocked Jeff Teague from receiving anything close to regular playing time as Drew usually utilized a three guard rotation with Jamal filling in at both guard spots off the bench.
After watching Crawford struggle I wrote a post in April saying that Atlanta owed Crawford an apology for asking him to do things that he simply isn't capable of doing. Some of that post was in jest but the premise of it was there. Jamal Crawford is at his best when he can throw caution to the wind and can worry about going out and scoring points. You give him too much other responsibilities and his production suffers. Under Mike Woodson he was as potent a weapon as you could ask for. Under Larry Drew, he may not make as much sense for the Hawks long term.
Jamal Crawford will become a free agent on Friday and I am not sure that Atlanta can bring him back even if they truly want to without going into the luxury tax. Now without dumping a player with a significant salary going forward which they may or may not be able to do. ESPN.com recently rated Crawford as the sixth best free agent this off season. If that is true then he will likely receive a salary offer from another team that Atlanta can't and shouldn't think about matching.
It isn't that I don't appreciate what Jamal Crawford did for the Hawks or what Jamal Crawford brings as a player. I feel like Atlanta missed an opportunity with Crawford by asking him to be something he wasn't and the result being hurting his value at the trade deadline last season. His contract in theory should have been one of the biggest trade chips at the deadline yet Atlanta never publicly pursued that angle. With Jeff Teague's emergence in the playoffs combined with Kirk Hinrich and Joe Johnson already on the roster, I don't see the need to commit more money to another shooting guard long term.
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