NBA AM: Jamal Crawford Staying Patient
Whenever the NBA lockout comes to an end, Jamal Crawford will be one of the top free agents on the market. He’s the best scorer available and a number of players, from LeBron James to LaMarcus Aldridge, have already started recruiting the veteran shooting guard. Free agency is always a chaotic process, but it’s even more hectic during a lockout.
Crawford can’t communicate with team employees and, even if he could, it wouldn’t do him much good. There’s no way of knowing which teams will have money to spend or what system restrictions will be put in place once the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified.
“It’s tough, honestly,” Crawford told HOOPSWORLD in a phone interview. “You hope and wish for the best, but then you have to deal with the reality of the situation. Right now, with the process we’re in, it’s been tough playing the waiting game, but I don’t have much of a choice.”
When the waiting game comes to an end, Crawford says there are a number of factors that will weigh into his decision.
“I think I’m looking for a little bit of everything,” Crawford said. “I want to have the chance to play a significant role. I want to see where the team is going in the future. I’m not asking for the world, but I want to be fairly compensated as well. There’s a ton of different things I have to look at including where the place is and whether or not my family will be comfortable there. It’s a little bit of everything.”
The Miami Heat and Portland Trail Blazers immediately come to mind, mainly because of the campaigning done by James and Aldridge on Twitter. Crawford has also received recruiting pitches from several other players who have caught up with him this summer during charity games and other events.
“It feels really good, especially coming from players of their caliber,” Crawford said. “You’re only as a good as your peers think you are. When people like that talk about you in that type of light, it makes you feel good. It’s been really cool.”
Crawford reportedly wanted a contract extension from the Hawks in recent years, but the two sides couldn’t agree to a deal. Now, Atlanta wants to re-sign the 2009-10 Sixth Man of the Year, but they’ll have competition from other teams.
“Talking to Rick Sund and Coach Drew after the season, they said I would be one of the top priorities,” Crawford said. “It’s just been so weird with everything going on because I can’t talk to them. They’ve told me before that they always wanted to re-sign me, the owners told me that they always wanted to re-sign me and they’ve made it very clear that they want me back there.”
“I still have interest in Atlanta, but there are other teams out there that I think could use me and that would be a really good fit too,” Crawford added. “I just have to go through the process and see how everything works out.”
Even though he has had success coming off of the bench in Atlanta, Crawford would prefer to start going forward. While he’s still willing to fill the sixth man role if necessary, he believes he can offer more to a team if he’s in the starting lineup.
“If I had to pick, I’d choose a starting role,” Crawford said. “Over the last eight years, in every situation – whatever role I was in, whatever team I played for and whatever coach I had – I’ve averaged almost 18 points per game. I think that speaks volumes, and I’ve only had the same coach in back-to-back years once during that period. I’m willing to come off the bench too. It’s really whatever the team needs, but I can see myself starting because I feel like I’m just now entering my prime.”
If the lockout continues, Crawford will consider signing abroad. Several teams have reached out to him recently including the Xinjiang Flying Tigers, who already signed fellow NBA free agent Kenyon Martin.
“It’s weird because when you’re a kid, you grow up wanting to play in the NBA. Now, basketball has become such a global game that there are options overseas as well. With this lockout and no telling how long it’ll last, you have to look at everything right now. It’s funny because [the Xinjiang story] got out, but that wasn’t the first team that had interest in me overseas. I’m just sitting back and staying patient. I want to see how things go with the NBA’s situation and then I’ll go from there,” Crawford said.
“Other countries have contacted me as well, which is why it’s weird that only the China story got out,” he added. “They wanted to see if I was interested in playing there and it’s something that I’ll definitely have to start taking a little bit more seriously now, depending on the situation with the league.”
Crawford is 31 years old, but he says his game is just now starting to peak.
“I feel like I’m just now getting into my prime,” Crawford said. “I only played two years in high school, half a year in college and I didn’t play regular minutes in the NBA until my fourth year. I also don’t have the wear and tear from long playoff runs or anything like that. I have a lot of basketball left in me.”
Crawford still has plenty to offer a team, but where he’ll be playing remains to be seen.
Players File Antitrust Complaint: Yesterday, the NBA’s players filed an antitrust complaint against the league. This is the latest move from players after the union disclaimed interest on Monday. The complaint was filed in Minnesota with Caron Butler, Ben Gordon, Anthony Tolliver and Derrick Williams named as the plaintiffs.
These individuals were selected because they represent the three subclasses of players who have been affected by the lockout: those under contract, free agents and rookies. The report states that these specific players were selected because each “can be found, resides, has an agent, or transacts business in the District of Minnesota.”
A second complaint was filed in the Northern District of California, with Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Leon Powe and Kawhi Leonard named as the plaintiffs. Additional complaints could be filed in the near future.
The complaint accuses the NBA of violating antitrust laws through breach of contract, group boycott and price fixing. The players aren’t asking for a preliminary injunction to lift the lockout, but rather a summary judgment. Here’s a portion of the complaint’s introduction:
“Plaintiffs are filing this class action to redress violations by each defendant of the federal antitrust laws and applicable state contract and tort laws. Plaintiffs are four professional basketball players, and similarly situated players who have entered into, and/or who seek to enter into, player contracts with National Basketball Association teams.”
Defendants, the NBA and its separately-owned and independently operated member teams, have jointly agreed and conspired to deny Plaintiffs the ability to provide and/or market their services in the major league market for professional basketball players through an unlawful group boycott and price-fixing arrangement.
The NBA Defendants’ anticompetitive agreements include a boycott that has eliminated competition in the free agent marketplace for players no longer under contract, as well as a boycott of rookie players seeking an NBA contract for the first time. The NBA Defendants have also conspired to refuse to deal with or to honor the contracts of players who have NBA contracts. The anticompetitive purpose of this group boycott is to coerce Plaintiffs and the other players to succumb to a new anticompetitive system of player restraints which will, among other things, drastically reduce player compensation levels below those that would exist in a competitive market.
As a result of Defendants’ anticompetitive agreements, Plaintiffs and other similarly situated current and future professional basketball players who are employed by or seeking employment with an NBA club will be prevented from offering or providing their services in a competitive market and from receiving a competitive market value for their services, and will be denied the freedom of movement available to employees in virtually every other industry in the United States.”
To read the entire antitrust complaint that was filed on Tuesday, click here.
NBA News and Notes: Here are some news and notes from around the league.
• The decision to disclaim interest and dissolve the union means the lockout just got ugly. The legal battle could be lengthy and some players don’t see an end in sight, which has forced them to revaluate their overseas options. “I’m going overseas,” said one young player. “I don’t have a choice.” While there aren’t nearly as many jobs available now as there were back in July, there are some teams looking to add NBA talent, specifically notable players who can create some buzz.
• Our friends over at DraftExpress are keeping stats for the NBA players who signed overseas. With most teams four or five games into their season, the top scorers have been Deron Williams (21.4 points), Nicolas Batum (20.5 points), Von Wafer (20.3 points), Sonny Weems (20.0 points) and Tony Parker (19.8 points).
• After Duke defeated Michigan State last night, Mike Krzyzewski recorded his 903rd win, which gives him the most wins by a head coach in Division I history. Coach K passed Bob Knight, who coached Krzyzewski at Army and served as his mentor throughout his coaching career. Knight called the broadcast for ESPN and a number of Krzyzewski’s former players were in attendance including Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Chris Duhon.
HOOPSWORLD Chats: There are two chats on today’s schedule. HOOPSWORLD’s salary cap and CBA guru Larry Coon will kick things off at 3 p.m. ET with his weekly chat. Up next, HOOPSWORLD’s Mark Nugent will be answering your questions at 5 p.m. ET. Submit your questions early because these chats fill up fast. To view all of HOOPSWORLD’s upcoming chats, click here.