After acquiring Chris Paul last offseason, the Clippers became playoff contenders overnight. But without much opportunity to shape their roster, they were left to play the season out with some glaring weaknesses and overstocked parts. L.A. had virtually no bench, no backup power players and a glut of tiny guards. While they plugged the holes last year with veterans like Kenyon Martin, Reggie Evans, Nick Young and Randy Foye, there’s a good chance none of them return in the fall. Still, the team has the look of a dangerous playoff squad. The core is intact, and now there are reports they could be adding the perfect wing scorer off the bench.
Jamal Crawford signed in Portland just 10 days before last season started, opting for a two-year deal with a player option after the first season so he could re-test his market value this summer. While his year with the Blazers was one of his worst as a professional – the team disintegrated as Crawford shot 38 percent and scored 14 points a night, his lowest average since 2002 – the former Sixth Man of the Year is still getting what he wanted: a shot to find a better home this offseason.
According to Alex Kennedy of HOOPSWORLD, Crawford and the Clippers are in advanced discussions at this point and hope to bring the explosive two guard out to L.A. for a face-to-face meeting later this week.
L.A. has also been linked to Ray Allen and Jason Terry, but my guess is Crawford will be the best fit. Terry is no different than Mo Williams, who was expendable in part because he was contributing to L.A.’s stockpile of tiny guards. And Jesus Shuttlesworth figures to either return to the Bean or turn his cloak for South Beach. While Crawford will probably command the full mid-level exception (starts at $5 million for the first two years of a possible four-year deal), he’s a legitimate 6-5 scorer who can get his own shot, and could combine with Paul and Chauncey Billups (if he is eventually brought back as well) to create an end-game lineup that’ll be absolutely killer at the free-throw line (last year at the line – Crawford: 93 percent, Paul: 86 percent, Billups: 90 percent).
But the Clippers will have competition for Crawford’s services. The Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers all contacted Crawford over the weekend.
If one of the NBA’s best ballhandlers eventually joins the Clippers, it’ll only increase the hype bound to come L.A.’s way. They still have CP3, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. They recently added the mercurial, but incredibly talented Lamar Odom. Billups is also probably coming back. Adding in Crawford would be just another nasty weapon in the woodshed.
Would Crawford be a good fit in L.A.?
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