Jamal Crawford: Pros and cons of a potential re-signing

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Jamal Crawford. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 11: Jamal Crawford. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – APRIL 23: Jamal Crawford
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – APRIL 23: Jamal Crawford /


Start with the bad, right?

Crawford’s worst trait is his most obvious: he’s a defensive liability. Out of 109 shooting guards, Crawford finished last in ESPN’s defensive plus-minus with a rating of -5.36. This is where the Wolves hit a crossroad.

Their two biggest needs are improving 3-point shooting and defense. Crawford brings help to one area, but it’s not the area that historically wins championships. A decision could be made easier if Crawford was near the middle of the pack in defensive plus-minus. However, seeing is how he finished last among all shooting guards, the Wolves have some thinking to do.

Also, Crawford never really got the playing time he expected in the Twin Cities. His 20.7 minutes per game was the lowest mark in his career since his rookie year 18 seasons ago. Knowing that, it’s unclear how much Crawford wants to return to the Wolves. In a situation like this it may take the Wolves a lot of effort to pursue him, not knowing if he will ink his name for sure. If too much time passes and Crawford decides not to return that could cost the Wolves other free agents who they could’ve pursed and signed instead.

On that note, there are other free agents who may come at better value and could offer more than Crawford.

Crawford declined $4.5 million to test the free agent market. That tells us that he will be looking for no less than that amount. For the Wolves, they can spend less and find someone younger who can be more of a defensive threat.

Take Elfrid Payton, for instance. The 24-year-old is entering free agency after earning just over $3.3 million last season. His 3-point shot has been improving as he shot 32.6 percent last season compared to 27.4 percent the year prior. Although his -1.95 defensive plus-minus is not the best, it isn’t as bad as Crawford, either. He has a high ceiling in that department and again, is only 24 years old.

(Sure, he plays point guard and not shooting guard, but today’s news that the Wolves may be shopping Tyus Jones and re-signing Derrick Rose would leave room for another guard if Tom Thibodeau plans to play more of the three-guard lineup that he rolled out in the playoffs this year.)

Players like Payton could make more sense for the Wolves if Crawford drives up the price that he is desiring. Even though he has historically been one of the best to shoot the three and provide am inexperienced team with an ounce more of experience, the Wolves may be better off letting Crawford walk.

Other issues with Crawford included some ill-advised shots and a lack of getting to the rim and free throw line.

The bottom line is this: Crawford’s experience is always of value. However, if he’s having an off-night shooting, he is a useless piece for the Wolves.