So Long, Stelo: TAI Reactions to the Jordan Crawford Trade
Jordan Crawford was traded today, ya heard? A former 24-year old rebuilding chip was jettisoned to Boston for a couple 30-year old NBA vagabonds, Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins. #SoWizards? Perhaps. Here’s the rundown of reactions from the TAI crew…
Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It):
It really is a shoulder shrugger (and a head-shaker). I mean, I care. I’ll miss Jordan Crawford. I wish he would have been a better player. I wish that the relationship between him and the franchise didn’t go down in such an epic, flaming bag of shit. But it did. Fighting off the desire to not overreact, but something is amiss with how this team handles players (not all players, mind you). Everyone in the league seems to know it and the owner seems completely oblivious to it. I’ll reiterate: During the time that Ernie Grunfeld has led the Wizards (since the ’03 Summer) only one NBA team has more losses than the Wizards: the Minnesota Timberwolves, with 482 losses to Washington’s 475. But now, Ernie is evidently doing exactly what Ted wants. So there’s that.
Crawford certainly did his part to wear out his welcome—an estimated 80 percent part, I’d say. In return for the diminished asset, the Wizards save a little bit of money. Nice, but certainly not part of the plan. The Theodore Unit wanted to develop young players who could either be used as trade pieces or as pillars for the rebuild. Instead, they are giving them away. On the other hand, Crawford was good, but he was not a system player. He wasn’t about quick ball movement, and he was rarely conscious about offensive spacing. He knew how to fire up shots with confidence, and he had the ability to drop fancy, no-look passes when his teammates weren’t ready. Hardly useful in terms of winning.
Crawford had his own booth at the carnival. He was a side-show enrapturing the desires of disenfranchised Wizards fans to be entertained. And for that, we thank him. But for a franchise that’s been run like a circus, evidently there’s no longer any room for clowns. So long, Stelo.
Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20):
I can envision a scenario where Ted Leonsis and Ernie Grunfeld will look Wizards fans, beat writers and bloggers in the eyes and do the sell job of all sell jobs on the future abilities of Leandro Barbosa (he is currently out for the season with a torn ACL). After Leonsis mentions the salary cap relief the Wizards have as a result of this trade, Grunfeld will marvel at Barbosa’s speed and his ability to finish on the fast break a la John Wall (abilities which may be limited after Barbosa undergoes surgery), and he may even mention in passing that Barbosa, like Nene, is Brazilian. I wouldn’t be surprised if Leonsis and Grunfeld mention that Barbosa has been a bench player most of his career, and that he’s willing to embrace the team concept better than Jordan Crawford, who did not seem to be embracing his diminished role. All of those points are true, and a strong case could be made for Barbosa being a good fit for this Wizards’ squad (even if it is highly unlikely that the 30-year old with an expiring contract ever dons a Washington uniform). An equally strong case could be made for Crawford and his refusal to put the team first—something Trevor Booker and Chris Singleton successfully pulled off when they were benched for long stretches, before eventually thriving when earning chances for on-the-court redemption.
Crawford certainly did not do himself any favors with his recent pouting, his inability to step up when Beal was injured and his always questionable shot selection. But, by Ted Leonsis’ own admission (a month ago today, I might add), Crawford was thrust in the unfamiliar role of being a playmaker and a team leader at the start of the season, while still attempting to do what he did best, which was to score, score and score again. Once Bradley Beal emerged and John Wall returned, Crawford struggled a bit, as Kyle pointed out today, and that led to frustration and eventually today’s trade. But as I mentioned to my fellow TAI colleagues earlier this afternoon, why couldn’t Crawford be given the same role as Vinnie Johnson or his “brother” Jamal Crawford. Why couldn’t Coach Wittman tell Jordan that he had five minutes in each half to distinguish himself. If he was hot, he’d get more playing time and even more of a green light, but if he was off, or a detriment to the team, he’d be benched until the next game. Crawford would have a set role to sink or swim with, and there would be no pouting, when and if he ended up on the end of the bench. But as far as we know, that option wasn’t given to the 24-year old Crawford—instead he was traded to a Boston Celtics team that will need him to do exactly what he does best: score, score and score again. I’ve intentionally declined to mention Jason Collins, who will get comfortable sitting next to Jan Vesely on the bench.
Sean Fagan (@McCarrick):
Three years ago, Jordan Crawford was hailed as the “get” from the Kirk Hinrich trade. Two years ago, Crawford was trotted out along with John Wall to model the Wizards new unis and to show how the Wizards were now a modern franchise moving away from their teal and gold past. Today, Crawford was traded away for what amounts to a bag of basketballs. Wizards fans who groaned about acquiring Fab Melo for the mercurial shooting guard don’t even have that to complain about. Instead, they get to watch the former “fastest man in the NBA” (Barbosa) wear a suit for the rest of the year and a guy (Collins) who might help Jan Vesely’s confidence level by being a human dunking receptacle.
To see this as anything less than a complete failure by both the Wizards’ player development wing and the coaching staff is to soft-shoe the issue. Yes, Crawford needed to play better defense to get himself back into the rotation. Furthermore, his attitude probably could have been a “wee bit” better as his DNP’s continued to rack up. But what do you expect from a guy who was one of the few with his own jersey for sale, who was hailed as a building block for the future, and who was basically given free reign the last few seasons to “do his thing” on the court. So the fact that Crawford was a bit miffed over his current treatment shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Wizards once again over-promised and under-delivered They gave the Keys to the Palace of Golden Play to a guy who wasn’t even ready to step on the grounds. Then they yanked his chain when they decided that maybe he was developing in a way the franchise had not had the foresight to predict.
What you have is a culture of enabling that turns most of the Wizards’ young players sour before they have a chance to ripen. Andray Blatche falls in love with his jumper. Nick Young goes away from his career year and decides that he can play one-on-one again despite all evidence to the contrary. JaVale McGee continued to JaVale McGee. Each became a scapegoat, and each was sent on his way out of town. Now Crawford joins a long list of former Wizards who probably have less than laudatory things to say about the organization. So before we judge Jordan Crawford to be a selfish jerk who didn’t do the necessary work to earn the PT, maybe we should ask what made him a selfish jerk in the first place.
Conor Dirks (@ConorDDirks):
When the Wizards acquired Jordan Crawford from the Atlanta Hawks in a deal for Kirk Hinrich two years ago, many believed they had acquired something for nothing. Today, they made good on the karmic balance, and shipped Jordan Crawford to Boston for (apologies to “Dwight Stopper” Jason Collins) nothing. I’m not sure that Crawford “had” to go, but go he did. Washington saves a modest, but potentially significant, amount of money next year, and Crawford joins a burgeoning group of exiled Washington players who didn’t see eye-to-eye with the club.
Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis):
Jordan Crawford had many nicknames: J-Craw, East Detroit, Steez, Sizzle and simply JC. He was one of my favorite players and many fans were attracted to his outsized persona. His on-court style could be frustrating at times, but it was highly entertaining, and he possessed a certain flair not seen in Wizards land since the Agent Zero days.
Crawford improved every season. His current PER is 14.85, better than Joe Johnson, Andre Iguodala and DeMar DeRozan. Crawford was asked to step aside for Bradley Beal. He did that quietly (at least in public) and helped the rookie adjust to NBA game. After A.J. Price went down and the front office’s other options failed, Crawford was asked to run point. He filled in admirably, and Ted Leonsis showered him with praise. Crawford never backed down from a challenge; Randy Wittman used to compliment his competitiveness:
“Jordan’s always going to keep fighting,” Wittman said. “He might not always take the best shots, I might scratch my head and look to the ceiling sometimes, but I do know he’s going to compete. He’s going to try. That’s who he is.”
We will never know exactly what went down for Crawford to go from being a factor in keeping this undermanned squad competitive for the first few months to him becoming a disposable team pariah after key players returned and everyone started to play better. Crawford’s contributions helped keep Wittman from the firing squad in December when the Wiz were in games, but could not close them out. Wittman got a pass from critics in a large part due to Crawford’s versatility.
Eventually, Wittman was unable to handle Crawford’s unwillingness to be benched for a D-Leaguer in Garrett Temple. If only Crawford were to have handled that demotion much better, but Steez is wired differently. The result is that a team which struggles to score has discarded a potential 15- to 20-point bench scorer for useless NBA journeymen.
If there is one thing the Wizards organization has more than excuses, it is scapegoats. Sadly, Jordan Crawford became their latest.
Good luck, Steez. Wizards Nation will be rooting for you to succeed. East Detroit, RAISE UP!
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