Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers said today that it’s unlikely the team will trade Jamal Crawford this season, the last one on the swingman’s contract. Rivers made his remarks to host Fred Roggin on The Beast 980 radio in Southern California (audio link), as Dan Woike of the Orange County Register passes along via Twitter. The Clippers were reportedly exploring trades involving the two-time Sixth Man of the Year shortly before the draft, with other reports this summer indicating that the Heat, Cavs and Knicks have held interest. Crawford has helped fuel the rumors on social media, tweeting in July that he wished he was a free agent, as I noted when I examined the 35-year-old’s trade candidacy.
“Jamal’s a Clipper, and I’d be very surprised if he’s not a Clipper at season’s end,” Rivers said in his radio appearance, one in which he also denied rumors that president of business operations Gillian Zucker was exerting authority over basketball decisions.
The Clippers, under Rivers’ guidance as president of basketball operations, upgraded their depth this summer, trading for Lance Stephenson, and signing Wesley Johnson, Paul Pierce and Pablo Prigioni. Another trade sent Matt Barnes away, but the team re-signed Austin Rivers, Doc’s son. All of it would appear to put a squeeze on Crawford’s playing time, particularly if the acquisition of Stephenson proves fruitful.
The team has nonetheless been unmotivated to trade Crawford in recent weeks, as Woike observed late last month. The comments from Rivers today appear to indicate his confidence that he won’t change his mind as the season develops, in spite of the roster logjam. Crawford already saw his minutes drop to 26.6 per game this past season, his fewest since the 2002/03 season. Still, a lack of depth was a weakness for the Clippers in the playoffs this spring, so perhaps the new acquisitions will simply fill in gaps elsewhere.
Crawford is due $5.675MM this season, a relative bargain based on his past production. That salary would make it difficult for the Clippers to find decent value in return, since, as taxpayers, they’re limited to taking in no more than 125% plus $100K of his salary without attaching other players to him in a trade.
Do you think Rivers will reconsider his stance and deal Crawford before the trade deadline in February? Comment to share your thoughts.