Jae Crowder

Southeast Notes: Crowder, Heat, Mosley, Wizards

The Heat made a key personnel decision that could have adversely impacted their 2020/21 season in letting Jae Crowder walk as a free agent during the 2020 offseason, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The club opted to not sign Crowder to a long-term deal so that it could keep its coffers open for the summer of 2021, when Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was scheduled to be a free agent. Of course, Antetokounmpo then signed a lucrative extension with Milwaukee, and the Bucks would go on to sweep the Heat 4-0 in the first round of the 2021 postseason.

Crowder, meanwhile, signed a three-year, $29.2MM deal with the Suns. Though Crowder’s statistical numbers may be modest, Winderman notes that his toughness and versatility would have significantly aided Miami’s 2020/21 season. Crowder is now bringing those same attributes to bear for the Suns in the NBA Finals. The club is up 2-0 against the Bucks.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Team Nigeria head coach Mike Brown sang the praises of Heat forwards Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala after they contributed to Team Nigeria’s 90-87 exhibition match upset over Team USA in an Olympics tuneup game, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Achiuwa and Okpala’s contributions went beyond their minor offensive output. Their Miami teammate Gabe Vincent, meanwhile, enjoyed a stellar offensive game for Nigeria, scoring a team-high 21 points on 66.7% field goal shooting.
  • Several current and former Magic players expressed their excitement when the news broke today that Orlando would be hiring Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley to be the club’s new head coach, writes Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. “I’m happy for him,” Magic forward Jonathan Isaac told Hays. “He’s been faithful to the grind and the league for many years.” Former Magic guard J.J. Redick, who was coached by Mosley in Dallas this season, tweeted “Love this!!”
  • The Wizards, who have the No. 15 pick in the 2021 draft, will hold pre-draft workouts for six draft candidates on Monday, per a team press release. Richmond guard Blake Francis, Florida guard Tre Mann, Avtodor Saratov forward Nikita Mikhailovskii, Tennessee swingman Yves Pons, Stanford forward Oscar Da Silva, and Coppin State wing Koby Thomas will all get a look from Washington’s brain trust.

Suns Notes: Kaminsky, Craig, Nader, Bridges, Crowder, Ayton

Torrey Craig, Frank Kaminsky and Abdel Nader could all pick up minutes during the remainder of the Finals in the aftermath of Dario Saric‘s knee injury, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Saric suffered a torn ACL during the opening quarter of Game 1. Kaminsky played four minutes in Game 1 while Craig received 16 minutes of floor time. “Frank gives us quality size and playmaking ability,” coach Monty Williams said. “He’s smart.”

We have more on the Western Conference champions:

  • Mikal Bridges has developed into one of the league’s top 3-and-D wings, Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes. Bridges makes the team’s pick-and-roll offense lethal due to his cutting, screening and spot-up shooting. His ability to guard multiple positions is another underrated aspect of the team’s success, Buha adds. Bridges is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • Jae Crowder is another one of those top-level role players and ESPN’s Zach Lowe takes an in-depth look at the forward, who is appearing in his second straight Finals. Crowder has played an average of 31.7 MPG in the postseason despite modest offensive numbers. He scored just one point in Game 1 but was on the floor for 33 minutes. “You don’t even know what position Jae is,” Williams said. “But you know this: It becomes really hard to take him off the floor.”
  • Williams isn’t sure what Deandre Ayton‘s ceiling is but the coach wants his young center to focus on the present, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. “It’s important to embrace where he is and embrace the work that he has to do today,” Williams said.

Suns Notes: Galloway, Crowder, Saric, Craig

With Game 1 of the NBA Finals set to tip off in a matter of hours, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines Suns guard Langston Galloway‘s path from going undrafted in 2014 to being four wins away from an NBA championship.

Oftentimes when I’m in the locker room, I’m the only undrafted guy in the locker room,” Galloway said. “I look at it like this, it’s like if I can beat out the next guy to me, I can worry about myself going forward and the opportunity I’ve provided in front of me.”

Galloway discussed the ever-vigilant edge that being an undrafted player causes you to play with: “You have to always be paranoid. It’s knowing that I can’t rest on my laurels, I can’t rest on my career. I have to always get better knowing that the next opportunity is my best opportunity.”

Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News also takes a look at Galloway’s impending free agency, as well as his potential fit with the first team that gave him a shot, the Knicks.

We have more news from the Suns:

  • Jay King of The Athletic has a piece on Jae Crowder and why every team in the league, especially the Celtics, need a guy like him. “I’m not saying Boston don’t have toughness,” Crowder’s father said on a podcast with former player Etan Thomas, “but they could have used a Jae Crowder. Miami got to the Finals last year. Jae Crowder’s gone, now where they at?” Celtics president Brad Stevens seems to agree: “Everywhere Jae Crowder goes, they win, which is great credit to him,” Stevens said.
  • Between injuries, a positive COVID test, and inconsistent minutes, it wasn’t the easiest year for forward Dario Saric, tweets Suns reporter Gina Mizell. “But to be, right now, here, with my teammates, it’s a dream come true, you know what I mean,” Saric said.
  • In a video from The Arizona Republic, Torrey Craig speaks on the experience of going up against his former team in the Finals: “… To compete against guys you played with, not only just compete against them but with the NBA Finals competing against them, that definitely sets the bar for whatever narrative you want to set for it,” Craig said, a smile on his face. “I’m definitely excited.”

Suns Notes: Craig, Crowder, CP3-Williams, Defense

Athletic Suns reserve swingman Torrey Craig is finding his form in the playoffs with his new club, writes Gina Mizell of Suns.com. Mizell notes that Craig as a defender has proven his value by guarding multiple positions. With Phoenix, Craig has also been able to showcase his game as a shooter and rim roller.

“We would be in a different place if we didn’t have Torrey Craig on our team,” Suns head coach Monty Williams said. “It was the right spot for Torrey. We needed him, and he needed us.”

“To me, it’s mental,” Craig said of his active brand of play with the Suns. “Even if I’m looking tired, I’m breathing hard, I’m still gonna go after the ball and do the extra dirty work. … If I’m gonna play 15 minutes this game, I’m gonna make sure I empty the tank in 15 minutes.”

Craig inked a veteran’s minimum one-year contract with the Bucks as a 2020 free agent. Craig found himself out of the rotation after being waylaid by a broken nose early in the 2020/21 season. He was relieved when he learned he was being traded to the Suns in March.

There’s more out of Phoenix:

  • In comments to reporters Sunday, veteran Suns starting power forward Jae Crowder said that many associates questioned his decision to join the Suns during the 2020 offseason after a Finals run with the Heat, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Before this season, the Suns had not earned a playoff berth since 2010. Now they are headed to the Western Conference Finals, having swept the Nuggets in a second-round series. “I know I look like a genius a little bit with my decision,” Crowder said. “I felt like (the Suns) were hungry. They want to do some special things, and I just want to be a part of it.”
  • Suns head coach Monty Williams and All-Star point guard Chris Paul are cherishing their shared journey to the Western Conference Finals after a decade-long friendship, per Royce Young of ESPN. Williams served as Paul’s head coach with the then-New Orleans Hornets during the 2010/11 season. “One of the highlights of my career, (Chris is) right there,” Williams said.
  • The Suns have excelled on both sides of the ball to return to their first Western Conference Finals in 11 years, but their intense defense will prove crucial throughout the rest of their playoff run, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. The club’s 104.7 defensive rating is a significant improvement over their already-impressive 110.4 regular season defensive rating. “Shout-out to our coaches,” Paul said. “We’re prepared every game. Win or lose, one thing we won’t be is underprepared. And just attention to detail — we have slip-ups here and there, but the signs of a good team is when you can lock in defensively. And that’s where we try to hang our hat.”

Pacific Notes: Crowder, CP3, Zubac, Mann

Suns forward Jae Crowder is hoping to make his second consecutive NBA Finals appearance during his first season with Phoenix, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Crowder signed a three-year, $29.2MM deal in the 2020 offseason with Phoenix after a productive 2019/20 run with the Heat, in which Miami eventually fell 4-2 to the Lakers in the 2020 Finals.

“Hopefully, once when we win the whole thing, I can salsa with the crowd, with the fans, some of the Phoenix fans here once we bring a championship home,” Crowder said. “That’s the goal.”

The 6’6″, 235-pound Crowder has carved out a niche as a tough two-way forward, capable of defending multiple positions and landing timely jumpers, writes Scott Cacciola of the New York Times. Crowder has earned a reputation around the league for his physical play, which he welcomes.

“Other teams just try to be physical with me, try to get me riled up,” Crowder told reporters after Phoenix’s Game 3 win in the club’s second-round playoff series against the Nuggets. “I don’t know if they know it, but I like that style of play. I like to trash talk. I like all of that because it definitely gets me going, and I think my team definitely feeds off it a little bit, the energy of it.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Veteran Suns All-Star point guard Chris Paul has achieved a first-time playoff series advantage this season in taking his first 3-0 start in any postseason matchup, per Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha notes that Paul, an 11-time All-Star, shows no signs of slowing down just yet, employing his veteran savvy to help propel Phoenix to the cusp of the Western Conference Finals. “He was using the clock well, coming off pick-and-roll getting into his spots, but it helps when you have guys like [Crowder] and [Devin Booker] and [Mikal Bridges] stretching the floor, and then [Deandre Ayton] puts pressure on the rim,” head coach Monty Williams said. “Defensively, he understands the moment. And offensively, just managing the game really well. But that’s what he’s done for a long time.” The 36-year-old Paul has been a steady presence to close out all three games in the final quarter. Buha notes that, in his 20 minutes logged across the series’ three fourth quarters thus far, Paul has tallied 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting from field, eight dimes, and zero turnovers. Paul has a $44.2MM player option for the 2021/22 season, though he may opt out in pursuit of a longer-term deal.
  • Clippers center Ivica Zubac returned to Los Angeles’s starting lineup ahead of its Game 2 loss to the Jazz, writes Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. The team felt that starting the 6’8″ Nicolas Batum at center, while beneficial for the team’s first round series against the switch-heavy Mavericks, was doing them no favors against three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. “I’m going to play hard and I’m going to work what my role is no matter what I do, and I’m not going to complain, and hopefully, [head coach Tyronn Lue] and the coaches appreciate that,” Zubac said of his matchup-contingent role with the club.
  • Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue indicated that athletic second-year guard Terance Mann has fallen out of L.A.’s rotation, tweets Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. After playing for just 14 seconds in Los Angeles’s first playoff game against the Mavericks, Mann saw a more pronounced role throughout the rest of the series, playing between 10-26 minutes across the team’s subsequent six contests. Mann has played in just total nine minutes across the Clippers’ first two games in their second-round series against the Jazz, both losses.

Southeast Notes: Lopez, Pasecniks, Crowder, Hawks Crowds, Bogdanovic

Veteran Robin Lopez has moved into the Wizards’ starting lineup due to the season-ending loss of center Thomas Bryant but the rotation will be flexible, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Moritz Wagner will get some opportunities and power forward Rui Hachimura could man the middle in small-ball sets. The Wizards also have Anzejs Pasecniks on the roster.

“It’s going to definitely be by committee,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s a good reason why the Wizards should take a closer look at Pasecniks, Hughes writes in a separate story. His $1,517,981 contract becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster past January 31. A 2017 first-round pick, the 7’2” Pasecniks could help a defense that has been lacking in the early portion of the season, Hughes adds.
  • It has become more perplexing that the Heat didn’t make a strong push to re-sign Jae Crowder, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. They made Crowder a large, one-year offer in order to protect their cap space this summer but the forward chose more long-term security by inking a three-year, $29.2MM contract with the Suns. The Heat have cycled through Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk in the power forward rotation and could have enjoyed more stability with Crowder, Winderman adds.
  • The Hawks have pushed back the targeted return of ticketed fans at State Farm Arena to January 26 due to COVID-19 concerns, according to a team press release. The Hawks will open at 10% capacity (approximately 1,700 tickets) before gradually increasing throughout the season, pending adequate conditions.
  • A medical expert interviewed by The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner estimates that Bogdan Bogdanovic will miss 4-6 weeks due to the avulsion fracture in his right knee, assuming surgery isn’t required. In Bogdanovic’s absence, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish will assume bigger roles, Kirscher adds.

Suns Notes: Crowder, Arena, Payne, Roster

Jae Crowder‘s arrival at training camp was delayed by personal issues apparently unrelated to COVID-19, but the Suns forward has reported to his new team and said this week that he’s “looking forward to moving forward,” writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Crowder was one of the most popular free agents on the market last month, telling reporters that 14 teams expressed interest in signing him (video link via Rankin). He cited recruiting from Chris Paul and Devin Booker as a significant factor in his decision to choose Phoenix.

Those guys made a strong pitch and I felt like Devin is ready for real pressure,” Crowder said. “When I say real pressure, that’s playoff basketball. Playing for it all.”

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • The Suns announced in a press release on Thursday that they won’t host fans at their home games to start the 2020/21 season, a decision that “did not come easily,” per team president/CEO Jason Rowley. “Our fans are the lifeblood of the Suns organization, and we want nothing more than to welcome our fans into our newly transformed arena in Downtown Phoenix,” Rowley said in a statement. “… However, we are exercising an abundance of caution and doing our part to maintain the health and safety of all our stakeholders during this crisis.”
  • Cameron Payne was a regular part of the Suns’ rotation during the team’s 8-0 run during the summer restart. Given the changes the roster has undergone since then, he’s looking to reestablish himself as a key contributor going forward, writes Duane Rankin for The Arizona Republic.
  • Gina Mizell of Suns.com takes a look back at the Suns’ offseason moves, writing that the front office was able to add veterans with playoff experience, as well as improving the team’s depth and outside shooting.
  • In case you missed it, despite being hired in 2019, Monty Williams already ranks near the middle of the pack on the list of the NBA’s longest-tenured head coaches.

Suns Notes: Galloway, Carter, Saric, Crowder

Langston Galloway wanted to join a playoff contender, which is one of the big reasons he chose the Suns in free agency, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

“The reason why I picked Phoenix, it’s a young, up-and-coming team that’s really on the move and can really help me going forward,” he said. “I really want to experience the playoffs and try to win a championship and I think this is the right organization to be with.”

Galloway, who averaged 10.3 PPG with the Pistons last season, signed a veteran’s minimum contract.

Detroit coach Dwane Casey was sad to see Galloway depart. “Langston is a leader, he sets the tone in practice, he’s a shooter and he’s a competitor,” he said. “He’s a quiet competitor.”

We have more on the Suns:

  • Phoenix gave restricted free agent Jevon Carter a three-year, $11.5MM deal to stay put and that made him feel like a valued member of the team, as he described to Rankin in a separate story. “I felt like I was wanted here,” Carter said. “Even when I went through those stretches when I wasn’t playing, it never felt like they didn’t want me here.” A 6’1” guard, Carter appeared in 58 games last season, averaging 4.9 PPG in 16.3 MPG.
  • Another restricted free agent that the Suns retained, forward Dario Saric, admitted to Rankin (Twitter link) that he was filled with uncertainty when free agency began. “I was like waking up saying, ‘Did anybody text me? Did my agent have anything to say to me?’ It was a couple of nervous days for me,” he said. “Everything ended up the right way for me.” Saric signed a three-year, $27MM contract.
  • Head coach Monty Williams wouldn’t elaborate on Jae Crowder‘s status during the first day of full practice Monday, Rankin reports. “I can’t comment on Jae’s situation,” Williams said. “I’m just going to leave it at that.” Crowder was a big “get” for Phoenix in free agency, as he left the Heat and signed a three-year, $30MM contract.
  • In case you missed it, B.J. Johnson was expected to join the Suns in training camp but he instead signed with the Heat.

Mavs Notes: Richardson, Brunson, Powell, Crowder, Barea

We heard prior to the offseason that the Mavericks would be prioritizing adding toughness to their roster this fall, and head coach Rick Carlisle confirmed as much this week, telling reporters that the club sought players with an “edge” (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News). The Mavs view Josh Richardson as one player who fits that bill.

I don’t really take well to my brothers being messed with,” the former Sixer said on Tuesday when asked about the toughness he brings to the club (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News).

Beyond his willingness to play with an “edge,” Richardson also appealed to the Mavs for a handful of other reasons, as Carlisle explained.

He’s a high-level defensive player, which is something that we needed,” said the Mavs’ head coach (Twitter link via Townsend). “We’ve been looking for a guy who can guard point guards and add scoring off the ball. … He’s a guy from afar who I’ve always thought would be a great fit with Luka Doncic.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • After missing the end of last season due to a shoulder injury, reserve point guard Jalen Brunson said on Wednesday that he’s “100%” and ready to go, tweets Caplan.
  • Dwight Powell (Achilles) said on Wednesday that he’s also a “full go” for the 2020/21 season. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Powell will likely open the year as the Mavericks’ starting center with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined.
  • During an appearance on Burns & Gambo in on Arizona Sports 98.7 (audio link via Nick Angstadt of Locked on Mavs), Jae Crowder said that he turned down more money from the Mavericks to sign with the Suns, since he envisions a bigger role for himself in Phoenix. It’s not clear if Dallas was offering Crowder – who signed a three-year, $29MM deal – more money in 2020/21 or more money overall. The latter seems unlikely, since the Mavs appear to be preserving their 2021 cap room, but they would’ve needed to sign-and-trade for Crowder to top the Suns’ mid-level offer.
  • Carlisle said on Tuesday that the Mavericks wanted to bring back J.J. Barea due to his experience, leadership, and ability to command respect in the locker room (Twitter link via Caplan).
  • In case you missed it, Doncic became the first player to have a rookie scale team option for the 2021/22 season exercised.

Jae Crowder Signs Three-Year Deal With Suns

NOVEMBER 28, 3:37pm: Crowder has officially signed, per team press release.


NOVEMBER 21, 1:03pm: The Suns have reached an agreement to sign Jae Crowder to a three-year contract, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). The deal will be worth just shy of $30MM, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Phoenix will use its full mid-level exception to complete the signing.

Crowder, who finished the season in Miami, reportedly explored a new deal with the Heat, but was seeking a guaranteed multiyear commitment that the Heat weren’t comfortable with, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).

League sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link) that Crowder also drew interest from the Mavericks, Timberwolves, Clippers, and Hornets, but that Phoenix’s offer was ultimately too good to pass up.

Crowder, 30, provides value as a three-and-D player who has the size to guard bigger wings. He also played some of his best basketball at exactly the right time in his contract year.

After being traded from the Grizzlies to the Heat at last season’s deadline, the veteran forward made 44.5% of his threes for Miami in 20 games to finish the season, then started all 21 postseason contests as the Heat came within two wins of a title.

Having secured a commitment from Crowder and having traded for All-Star point guard Chris Paul earlier in the week, the Suns are looking like an intriguing playoff contender in the Western Conference this season. The team finished five games below .500 in 2019/20, but had an impressive 8-0 run in the Walt Disney World bubble, increasing expectations for ’20/21.

Paul and Crowder will join a promising group that includes star guard Devin Booker, former No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton, and young wings Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, among others. The Suns also still hope to re-sign restricted free agent forward Dario Saric, per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.