The pre-draft buzz continues for the Minnesota Timberwolves as guard Jamal Crawford has reportedly officially declined the player option on his contract.
Shortly after the Timberwolves’ season concluded, ESPN reported that veteran guard Jamal Crawford would be declining his player option for the 2018-19 season and would aim to become a free agent.
Just over a week ago, Crawford himself appeared on Alex Kennedy’s HoopsHype podcast and claimed that he hadn’t yet made a decision on the option, but sure talked like someone who was ready to explore the market. (The only real reason he gave for staying in Minnesota was that he doesn’t want to move his kids and force them to change schools once again.)
Now, Yahoo’s Shams Charania is reporting that Crawford has officially declined his option prior to the deadline, and will leave $4.5 million on the table in pursuit of a new deal, presumably in a new NBA city.
We covered Crawford’s frustrations related to playing time plenty here at Dunking With Wolves, and Crawford responded (sort of) to Kennedy’s questions on the topic in the aforementioned podcast. While the now-38-year-old was excited to play with Jimmy Butler and for Tom Thibodeau, it sure appears as though the nearly career-low minutes load was not was J-Crossover was expecting when he joined the Timberwolves.
Our own Adam Ziobrowski listed the pros and cons to a potential Crawford return back in early May. Here were some of my thoughts in my season review of Crawford’s lone season in a Wolves uniform:
Crawford wasn’t even a league-average 3-point shooter, making just 33.1 percent of his threes. He made 40.6 percent of his shots from the corners, but only one in five of his long-range attempts were from that spot on the floor.
Without making threes at a high rate, Crawford was simply useless this season for the Wolves. He got to the rim less than ever before — only 5.8 percent of his field goal attempts came with three feet of the cup, and only 7.5 percent of his shots came from inside 10 feet.
Part of this is due to a step backwards in burst and athleticism, and part was due to scheme/the comfort of launching from the mid-range. Shockingly, a career-high 32.3 percent of Crawford’s field goal attempts came from the 16-foot-plus two-point range.
The above excerpt doesn’t even touch on his cratering defense, which went from bad to absolutely horrible in 2017-18. This was the biggest negative impact that he had on the team while on the court.
There will surely be a market for Crawford — there always is. He’s still a capable volume scorer, and his ability to get hot in a hurry and pour in points will surface a handful of times throughout the course of a season. But he simply should not be used in long stretches, and can’t be relied upon at all on the defensive end of the floor.
More likely than not, a fringe contender will pick him up and use him similarly to what Thibodeau and the Wolves did last year, with similar results.
Assuming the Timberwolves don’t bring him back on a different deal, it’s a good thing that Crawford is hitting the open market. While it’s sad to see Jamal the person go, the on-court product will be better upon his departure.