NBA: Jamal Crawford says he’s excited about trade from Warriors
By Marcus Thompson II
Contra Costa Times
Last November, Warriors guard Jamal Crawford was elated about being traded to the Warriors. He was back on the West Coast, he was playing a fun style of play, he was on a team with promise.
Seven months later, Crawford is again elated this time about leaving the Warriors.
“I was excited when I came,” Crawford said when reached by phone on Wednesday. “But towards the end of the season, that had faded. It became too uncomfortable with too much uncertainty.”
Team sources confirmed Golden State agreed to trade Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks for point guards Speedy Claxton and Acie Law. The deal can’t go through until July 1, when the 2009-10 season officially begins.
The trade has little to impact on what the Warriors do in Thursday night’s draft, as neither Claxton nor Law is what the Warriors were looking for in their quest for a point guard, according to team sources. This move does, however, save the Warriors some $12 million in salary cap space over the next two years.
First, they get rid of Crawford’s deal, which had two years and more than $19 million remaining. Claxton is set to make $5.2 milliion next season, the final year of his contract. He played two games last season, not including one postseason appearance. He missed the entire 2007-08 season, and 51 games of the 2006-07 season.
If he doesn’t return to action this season, insurance would cover some 80 percent of his salary, saving the Warriors even more cap space.
Law, a second-year guard, has one year left for $2.2 million. The Warriors could exercise their team option on the fourth year of his contract by Oct. 31, but it is more likely they will let him walk after this coming season.
Team sources said neither of the pending acquisitions are answers to the Warriors’ hole at point guard. So Golden State still could draft a point guard Thursday night if one they wanted was available. With that said, many expect the Warriors to draft Arizona power forward Jordan Hill, as he’s presumed to be the player highest on the wish list when they select at No. 7.
General manager Larry Riley said Monday he expects two of the four point guards they would take to be selected in the first six picks. He said there was only one other power forward they would take, but drafting him at seven would be a reach. The Warriors aren’t in the market for a center or a swingman, as they are crammed tight at both positions.
The logjam is one player lighter, however, assuming neither Claxton nor Law make it into the regular rotation. Crawford, who split time at both guard positions, was expected to move after coach Don Nelson told Crawford to opt out or be traded.
“I didn’t want to talk about the ultimatum in the season,” Crawford said, “But I was shocked. I drove around for two hours after that meeting just in shock. I basically saw the writing was on the wall, that my future wasn’t with the Warriors. It’s weird. With me first coming, coach said he wanted me to end my career here and that I was a Godsend. Then he was saying he wanted me to be more aggressive and play my game. Then a week later, that happened. I was shocked.”
Crawford’s ability to opt out, which expires on July 1, reportedly gave Hawks coach Mike Woodson reason for pause. But Crawford, who read about Woodson’s reservations, said he wouldn’t opt out, citing the rough economic times (which has several teams cutting back, therefore limiting his chances of getting similar money elsewhere). To appease the Hawks’ concerns, Crawford said he will sign an agreement stating he won’t opt out.
“If this was last year or the year before,” Crawford said, “I think I would’ve (opted out).”
Also, his excitement about going to the Hawks will prevent him from opting out, he said. Atlanta represents the best chance he’s ever had at making the playoffs and he thinks he and guard Joe Johnson would make a great tandem.
Crawford expected the same with he and Warriors guard Monta Ellis.
Crawford said he is disappointed things didn’t work out, as he liked his teammates and the fans. But he is happy to get out of the Warriors’ situation, which had him coming off the bench and playing for a coach who didn’t want him.
“I like my teammates and the area for sure, but it was just a weird situation,” said Crawford, whose 11-year-old son lives in Atlanta. “This experience was like nothing I’ve experienced before. I can’t cry over it. This is the profession I chose. But this helps me see that anything is possible.
“Did I do any one thing to deserve this? No. If being professional and doing what’s asked is a bad thing, I guess I’m guilty.”