Timberwolves

REPORTS: Jamal Crawford to Decline Player Option, Become Free Agent

Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

According to Chris Haynes of ESPN, Jamal Crawford will decline his 2018-19 player option for $4.5 million and become a free agent this summer.

Crawford, who turned 38 in March, has a storied history of success as a reserve. He has three Sixth Man of the Year awards to his credit, but this year he struggled defensively and shot just 33.1 percent from 3-point land.

Still, the allure with Crawford was never his bare stats — or the advanced numbers, even — it was his ability to get hot in spurts and become another scoring threat off the bench. Even if those games came few and far between, the mere chance of it happening was reason enough for head coach and team president Tom Thibodeau to keep him around.

He also was a positive vocal presence off the bench and in the locker room, but his ability to get hot has been his calling card dating back to his younger years.

Thibodeau had one phrase he’d use often when describing Crawford.

“It doesn’t take him much to get going.”

This was as true this year as it’s been in every other year, except those instances were tougher to come across this year. He only scored 20-plus points six times this season, and only dropped 15-plus 18 times — he played all 82 games this year.

Part of that — paired with some defensive struggles, that have been part of his catalog for a while — might have come with an unusually low number of minutes. This was the first time since the 2002-03 season that he hit fewer than 25 minutes per game.

“It’s a difficult challenge,’’ Crawford said in December. “Because this is the lowest minutes I’ve played, pretty much the same minutes I played as a rookie. So you want to actually do it the right way, and play within the framework of the game. But then, if you’re not out there that much, you kind of have to make something happen. So it’s a balance I’m trying to figure out.’’

When asked whether there was value in playing fewer minutes, Crawford was clear.

“To be honest with you, I don’t.”

While this has no direct influence on actual increased cap space, it does create a need for a new bench wing. Even if the Wolves sign Derrick Rose this summer to pair with Tyus Jones, the need for another wing will be there.

This would, in theory, open up a lot of opportunities for creativity in the trade and free agent market.


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