Word came out yesterday that Jamal Crawford has been in talks with LeBron James about him joining the Cleveland Cavaliers. Indications are that Crawford is very interested in joining the Eastern Conference champions, but there’s one thing standing in the way of these two joining forces.
Jamal Crawford is currently under contract with the Atlanta Hawks after being traded by the Los Angeles Clippers. Crawford still has two years and $28.75 million left on his contract. Crawford is seeking a buyout with Atlanta, and if he’s successful in his request, he’ll become a free agent. If Crawford becomes a free agent, it seems very likely that he’ll join the Cavaliers. For both Crawford and the Cavs, this is a perfect fit.
Cavs Biggest Problem
One of the biggest problems for Cleveland in the NBA Finals was their bench production. There wasn’t a single player on their bench who scored more than 9 points in a game. Let’s take a look at the Cavs bench points contributed from each NBA Finals game (Only includes players who entered the game):
Game 1: 21 out of 91 points (23%)
Derrick Williams: 0 points, Richard Jefferson: 9 points, Deron Williams: 0 points, Iman Shumpert: 5 points, Dahntay Jones: 7 points, James Jones: 0 points, Kyle Korver: 0 points.
Game 2: 30 out of 113 points (26.5%)
Derrick Williams: 5 points, Channing Frye: 2 points, Richard Jefferson: 7 points, Deron Williams: 0 points, Iman Shumpert: 6 points, Dahntay Jones: 2 points, James Jones: 0 points, Kyle Korver: 8 points.
Game 3: 11 out of 113 (9.7%)
Richard Jefferson: 1 point, Deron Williams: 0 points, Iman Shumpert: 2 points, Kyle Korver: 8 points.
Game 4: 23 out of 137 points (16.8%)
Derrick Williams: 2 points, Richard Jefferson: 8 points, Deron Williams: 5 points, Iman Shumpert: 5 points, Dahntay Jones: 0 points, James Jones: 0 points, Kyle Korver: 3 points.
Game 5: 7 out of 120 points (5.8%)
Richard Jefferson: 4 points, Deron Williams: 0 points, Iman Shumpert: 0 points, Kyle Korver: 3 points.
Keep in mind that some of those points were contributed by players who only played because the game was a blowout. To get a more accurate feel for how bad the Cavaliers bench was, let’s look at the total points contributed by their four primary bench players.
Richard Jefferson: 29 points (5.8 per game)
Deron Williams: 5 points (1.0 per game)
Iman Shumpert: 18 points (3.6 per game)
Kyle Korver: 22 points (4.4 per game)
How Does Crawford Fit?
Jamal Crawford would give the Cavaliers an instant scoring threat off the bench. He averaged 12.3 points per game last season. Kyle Korver was the leading scorer for the Cavs during the regular season, scoring 10.1 points per game. That’s not bad, but the next leading scorer off the bench was Iman Shumpert, who scored 7.5 points per game. Crawford would add some much needed scoring credibility to this Cavaliers bench.
Kyle Korver is a good sixth man, but he’s too one dimensional. His role is to just be a 3pt shooter. He doesn’t do much else. Crawford is much better at creating his own shot. He’s more of a ball handler than Korver. Even though Crawford isn’t a true point guard, I’d still trust him to play point off the bench over Deron Williams.
Jamal Crawford is a three time Sixth Man of the Year award winner. Even at the age of 37, Crawford is still one of the best bench players in the NBA. The Cavaliers haven’t done anything this offseason to improve their team. If they want to get better and increase their chances of winning another NBA championship, Jamal Crawford would be a great addition. He would give them some much improved bench production, which is something the desperately need.
The Cavs won’t be able to pay Crawford as much as some other teams, but they need him more. The opportunity to play with LeBron James and win a championship will be two very high selling points. If Jamal Crawford gets bought out, look for the Cavs to be serious contenders to sign him.