The 2017 NBA offseason has been fairly quiet for the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers, although they did manage to make a few moves, including the re-signing of sharpshooter Kyle Korver and the additions of two new faces in Jose Calderon and Jeff Green.
As most fans of the team know, the Cavs are keeping an eye on veteran guard Jamal Crawford, who was traded from the L.A. Clippers to the Atlanta Hawks a few days ago, then subsequently reached a buyout agreement earlier today. That makes the three-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner a free agent, and the two sides reportedly have mutual interest. In fact, Joe Vardon of cleveland.com recently reported that Crawford spoke with Cavs superstar LeBron James, telling him that he would be “very interested” in joining the team. Now that he has reached a buyout, it seems Crawford is ‘Cleveland’s to lose,’ as Vardon writes in his article.
The Cavs, who are now labeled as repeat offenders for being over the salary and luxury cap in consecutive seasons, have but limited funds to offer Crawford for his services. Cleveland does have one mid-level trade exception at their disposal, which is valued at $5.2 million, but would Crawford accept that amount to play for the wine and gold? Perhaps… Sources tell Vardon that he would — if the Cavs offer the full amount. However, there are several other teams hot on his trail, including the Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as Los Angeles Lakers, and the Cavs originally planned to use part of their mid-level exception to pay their rookie Cedi Osman. If Crawford takes up the entire MLE, it complicates Osman’s move to the Cavs.
In his career-high 82 regular season games with the LA Clippers last season, Crawford averaged 12.3 points (41% field, 36% from beyond the arc), 2.6 assists, and 1.6 rebounds in 26.3 minutes per game. While it’s true he isn’t the greatest defender, there is no doubt he would be a fine addition to any team’s rotation.