Free-agent Guard Jamal Crawford, Sixers Make Sense for Each Other

The Sixers have money to spend in free agency, and one player who could wind up on the receiving end of it is Jamal Crawford.

Crawford has a list of suitors interested in his proven scoring abilities. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reported the Sixers, Celtics, Hawks, Kings, Mavericks and Nets are among those teams, with the Sixers making a “significant” offer. Kennedy also noted the Sixers’ offer is “shorter-term.” 

The 36-year-old shooting guard is one of the most reliable offensive players available in free agency. Last season he averaged 14.2 points (shooting 40.4 percent from the field and 34.0 percent from three), 1.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 26.9 minutes for the Clippers. Crawford ranked second in the league behind Steph Curry with a 90.4 free throw percentage. He is entering his 17th NBA season. 

Why Crawford makes sense for the Sixers: The Sixers need offense. They ranked second-to-last in the NBA last season with 97.4 points per game and lacked a consistent go-to player. Ben Simmons will become the focal point of team, but while the first overall pick transitions to the NBA he cannot be expected to drop 20 points a game from the start as a rookie. The Sixers have to add more scorers to put points on the board. 

Last season Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers with 17.5 points per game and Ish Smith was second with 14.7. The Sixers are sorting out their big man situation with Okafor and Nerlens Noel, and there is no guarantee Okafor will be on the team next season should a trade arise. Smith agreed to a three-year deal with the Pistons. 

The only other players to average more than 10 points per game were Robert Covington, Noel and Isaiah Canaan (who the Sixers did not extend a qualifying offer to.) 

The Sixers current depth at shooting guard is thin. Nik Stauskas only averaged 8.5 points per game last season, and while Hollis Thompson can play the two he started more games at the three. The Sixers drafted international shooting guard Furkan Korkmaz, although his status for next season is unclear. 

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Financially, the Sixers have big money available. They agreed to an affordable three-year, $27 million deal with point guard Jerryd Bayless. While they reshape their team, bringing in an experienced veteran with a high price tag for less years would give them an immediate solution and roster flexibility down the road. 

Crawford checks off multiple boxes in addition to pure scoring. He would bring professionalism. Crawford has been both a starter and reserve. He embraced his role off the bench so well that he won NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award three times (the only player in league history to do so) for two different teams. Crawford currently holds that title. 

He also would provide a much-needed voice of leadership and experience to the locker room. Crawford has six seasons of playoff experience for a total of 62 postseason games. 

Why the Sixers make sense for Crawford: At 36, Crawford is not in the same situation as younger players in their 20s or early 30s agreeing to longer contracts (see: all the four year deals that have been offered). Crawford could sign a short-term contract with the Sixers, earn a lucrative payday this summer, and still be able to secure another deal when this one expires. Going to a team on which he would have a large production role only would help his value for his next contact. 

Crawford would be highlighted in the Sixers’ system. This is important to consider when looking at the situation with the Clippers, where he played the last four seasons. The Clippers made an offer to Crawford, but it was reportedly lower than the three-year, $35 million offer made to Austin Rivers, according to USA Today Sports. In comparison, Rivers averaged 8.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists last season. Feeling valued is a key part of free agency. 

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