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Looking At Potential Landing Spots For Jamal Crawford In Free Agency

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I have been of the opinion for some time that Jamal Crawford has probably played his last game in an Atlanta Hawks uniform. It is not that I don't think he has been a big part of the team's success over the last two seasons but more about fitting him into the team's salary structure going forward. Reports around the internet suggest that Crawford is going to have several suitors but it remains to be seen whether or not he can come anywhere close to making the $10 million or so per year that he did in Atlanta last season.

Just last week, Crawford was the subject of a LeBron James tweet suggesting that Jamal should sign with the Heat once the lockout was over. Other reports suggest that Crawford is a potential target for the Chicago Bulls and the New Jersey Nets who are looking for some scoring punch from the wing position. Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge has also publicly expressed hope that Crawford would join him on the Blazers. So there is plenty of interest out there from teams that can likely offer more than the Hawks can given their current salary situation right?

Not necessarily given the amnesty clause that is being reported as part of the new CBA agreement. A recent article in Hoopsworld suggests that the Hawks could use the amnesty clause on Marvin Williams which would give them about $12 million under the tax to pursue Crawford and another small forward.

It is an interesting thought so lets take a closer look. If Atlanta decided to cut ties with Williams then they could theoretically resign Crawford to a two or three year deal worth anywhere from $6-8 million annually and still have a little money left over. That would essentially replace Williams with Crawford in the Hawks current salary structure.

So what does that do to the on the court product. One of the main reasons I have been ready to cut ties with Crawford was his negative effect on Jeff Teague's playing time. This could be negated by moving Joe Johnson to the small forward position full time and inserting Teague into the starting lineup alongside Kirk Hinrich. That would put Jamal back in his familiar role as sixth man and give the Hawks a solid three guard rotation with a pretty good defender to pair with Crawford in the back court anytime he was in the game. It would also cut down on the amount of time that Jamal had to spend at the point guard position. This scenario wouldn't be an option if Johnson didn't have the size (6-foot-8, 225) to pull off the position switch.

I am intrigued about this idea, although here is why I don't think it will happen. Would the Hawks be willing to pay any player that wasn't actively contributing on the roster? Remember they would still be on the hook for paying Williams the remaining money left on his contract even if he signed with a different club. I say no given the uncertainty surrounding the ownership situation. You must also consider that Crawford is 31 years old while Williams is just 25.

Also there are reports that the amnesty clause may not have to be used right away which could lead to several teams holding onto it for future leverage down the line. The Hawks may very well try to bring back Jamal Crawford but without making some sort of move, it seems to be doubtful that they are going to be able to pull it off.

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