Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made it clear that he’d like to have soon-to-be restricted free agent Jae Crowder back with the team next year in comments the executive made in his weekly appearance on the Toucher & Rich show on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston (audio link). Ainge has spoken highly of Crowder in the past, but his latest remark seemingly demonstrates a desire to continue the partnership that began when Boston acquired the former 34th overall pick this past December in the Rajon Rondo trade.
“We really did like Jae Crowder, and we feel like he’s a big part of our team going forward,” Ainge said to the 98.5 hosts, according to Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com (Twitter link).
The C’s can match any competing offers for the swingman who turns 25 in July as long as they tender a qualifying offer worth just $1,181,348. Crowder has expressed a contentment in Boston, where he’s seen a more significant role than he had during his two and a half seasons with the Mavericks. He’s averaged 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 24.2 minutes for the Celtics, making 17 starts in 57 regular season appearances, and those averages are all slightly higher in two postseason games for Boston so far. Crowder has come off the bench in both playoff contests, but he’s fourth on the team in postseason minutes per game.
Little is certain for the Celtics, who have a vast supply of trade exceptions and only about $40MM in guaranteed salary for next season after having made a surprise playoff run this year. The C’s can’t sign Crowder to an extension or trade him before the end of June, so if they want to use one of the exceptions around draft time and open cap space in July, they couldn’t swap Crowder to accommodate such a move. Boston can sign-and-trade Crowder once the July Moratorium is over or let him simply sign with another team, but it appears as though the Celtics and the Glenn Schwartzman client both have motivation to stick together into 2015/16. The C’s have his Bird Rights, and a deal for at least the value of the $3.376MM taxpayer’s midlevel exception sounds as if it’s in order, though that’s just my speculation.