Jamal Crawford has not played NBA basketball since April 9 as a shooting guard for the Phoenix Suns.
In case you forgot: That game was memorable. The Michigan product posted 51 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in the Suns’ 120-109 loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
Worth noting: Crawford played spoiler to now retired Dirk Nowitzki, a 21-year vet who happened to play his final home game at American Airles Center.
For those keeping score at home: The German big finished with 30 points, eight rebounds, and a block in Dallas’ win.
Meanwhile back at the ranch: Jamal Crawford has a unique set of skills. Drafted out of Michigan in the 2000 NBA Draft, the shooting guard’s ball handling ability, crafty scoring and leadership has won him three NBA Sixth Man of The Year awards.
To be frank: he’s also likely your favorite basketball player’s favorite basketball player. “Everybody loves J.C.,” Boston Celtics point guard, Kemba Walker told me.
“He’s a great dude first of all and basketball-wise, I mean, everybody knows what he does.”
The Philadelphia 76ers were very interested in signing Crawford last season. When I asked point guard, Ben Simmons about the chances of Crawford joining Philly, he looked at me, smiled and said: “He needs to come through.”
Crawford ultimately signed with the Phoenix Suns.
At age 39, Crawford, a 20 year NBA vet has career averages of 14.6 points and 3.4 assists per contest.
Many reference Crawford’s age as a factor as to why he hasn’t been signed. Fair. But the same folks who make that argument forget that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar retired at age 42.
Dig this: When Abdul-Jabbar was Crawford’s age during the 1986-87 season, his stat line was 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds.
The previous year, Abdul-Jabbar averaged 23 points per game.
Jamal Crawford ranks seventh among NBA players by total career regular-season three-point field goals made. He remains the NBA all-time leader in four-point plays, with 55 or 60 counting in the NBA Playoffs.
With that game in April against the Mavs, Crawford at 39 years, 20 days became the oldest player to score 50+ points in a game, as well as the first player to ever do so with four different franchises.
Million Dollar Question: Why isn’t Jamal Crawford on an NBA roster?
“I think Jamal will,” retired two-time NBA Champion and TNT analyst, Kenny Smith tells me.
“I think he’s been there long enough, I think Jamal has a special talent that teams who are saying: ‘We’re trying to win it all’ will eventually look at him and say: ‘we’re missing him.’
So is he a fit with the Philadelphia 76ers? Respected Philadelphia Inquirer Sixers writer, Keith Pompey said it best in a recent article: the Sixers should sign Jamal Crawford, who at 39 years old (he’ll be 40 in March) can make major offensive contributions off the bench.
To acquire Crawford, the Sixers would have to waive or trade a player to make room on the roster. But having Crawford or someone of his ability is needed.
What say you Kenny Smith? “He’s a fit everywhere,” he told me.
“But in the second unit, he can come in and do exactly; well not exactly, but he can do a lot of things like Lou Williams. I think Lou is younger at this stage and is better at it at this stage, but Jamal is close.”
That’s high praise. Lou Williams is no slouch. In fact, averaging 20 points, 5.4 assists and 3 rebounds in 75 games for the Los Angeles Clippers last season, he was arguably the best player on their roster and he came off of the bench. “I look at Lou as a great player,” Jamal Crawford told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcast last year.
“A great sixth man, I think he’s a true professional. He’s found his niche and he embraces his niche.”
The Los Angeles Lakers are widely believed to be in the Andre Iguodala sweepstakes should the Memphis Grizzlies offer the NBA Champion a buyout. Objectively, the Los Angeles Clippers are in that hunt too.
But what if that doesn’t come to fruition on the Lakers side?
Crawford’s name has floated. So has J.R. Smith’s and Carmelo Anthony. Last season the Lakers were on Crawford’s mind. “It was some thought,” he told me on the Scoop B Radio Podcat last summer.
“We talked to a lot of teams to be honest with you. There’s a lot of teams and there’s always talk, but I’m not sure how close that was. But there was some talk there early on.”
The Lakers are on a three game winning streak. Led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis and a solid supporting cast of Danny Green and Dwight Howard, many were frustrated with the Lakers after their loss to the Clippers at Staples Center during opening night last week.
Worth noting: Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo have been out with injuries. Any LeBron James-led team needs solid shooting. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has begun to find his shooting rhythm in the last two games. Could Crawford be the added shooter that they need? Time will tell.