There’s no doubting that Miami Heat’s decision to let forward Jae Crowder walk last season was a mistake. The Heat struggled hard without being able to find a sufficient replacement for Crowder, and Miami’s inconsistent season followed by a playoff sweep proved as much.
Crowder, who played a crucial role in helping the Heat make it to the NBA Finals in the bubble, wanted a multi-year contract with Miami, but the franchise only offered the 30-year-old forward a one-season guarantee. Crowder went on to sign a three-year $29 million deal with the Phoenix Suns, a team that just swept NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets in order to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
“I look like a genius, huh?” Crowder said of ditching the Heat and joining the Suns, as reported by the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “I know I look like a genius a little bit with my decision.”
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“And when I made the decision, you should have saw how many text messages I got, like, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘Why you going to Phoenix, they haven’t made the playoffs in 10 years?’”
When Miami limited their offer to Crowder, they were conserving money in hopes of signing Giannis Antetokounmpo, who ended up re-upping his deal to stay in Milwaukee.
Crowder Said the Short Offseason Was Actually Helpful
For both the Heat and Los Angeles Lakers, there was a lot of discussion over the players’ historically short offseason before the 2020-21 NBA season started. In fact, all four teams who made it to the Conference Finals in the bubble have already been eliminated from this year’s playoffs.
But Crowder said he didn’t mind only having a short break. “That helped a lot,” the 6-foot-6 Marquette alum said. “I mean, mentally it was a challenge for me. It wasn’t so much about the game of basketball, just the mental part of being away from family, being in a restricted area for myself for 96 days, I spent 96 days in there, playing the last Finals game. And it just got to be tough mentally a little bit.”
“But other than that, it definitely helped me grow,” Crowder continued. “It helped me on my game a little bit. I was able to go to the gym multiple times throughout the day, because I just felt it was the only thing to keep my mind working, to keep me in my sanity. I just felt like the bubble helped grow things for my mentality. And I think for our young guys here, it just prepared us for this moment.”
Crowder Knew the Suns Were Going to Do ‘Special Things’ This Season
While the Suns’ powerhouse campaign this season was a surprise to many, for Crowder, who finished the regular season averaging 10.1 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, he knew this was going to be a banner year for Phoenix.
“I just knew what type of group these guys were. I felt like they were hungry. They wanted to do some special things and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
“And I honestly feel like it’s all coming together for us, for not only myself, but for our team and for our organization, because everybody’s on the same page. We’re all fighting for the same goal. I mean, you’ve got a lot of selfless guys on our team and you see how we play each and every night. We play for one another.”