The Boston Celtics are currently 25th in the NBA in offensive efficiency, and about to enter the home stretch of the 2012-13 season without the team’s best offensive facilitator in the injured Rajon Rondo. Desperate, and coming off of an embarrassing 14-point loss to the defenseless Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, the team went all-in for that gunniest of gunners, former Washington Wizards guard Jordan Crawford.
The price? The expiring contract of a player in Leandro Barbosa that will be out for the rest of the season, and most of the next (presuming a team picks him up) with an ACL tear. That, and big man Jason Collins -- who might be waived as Washington already boasts a sturdy, defensive-minded frontcourt. This is not what you would call a blockbuster.
Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report that the C’s were not sending young center Fab Melo to Washington, but Barbosa and veteran center Jason Collins instead. The deal ensures that Crawford will have a chance to chuck his way into Boston’s good graces as they attempt to stem a recent three-loss in four-game swoon. Courtney Lee has disappointed this season in Boston, and Jason Terry hasn’t played as well off the ball as he’s played on the ball at point guard this season, but this is still a last ditch attempt by Boston as the team attempts to not be forced into a few 72-point games when the playoffs start.
And for Washington? They wanted Crawford off of their roster and away from young guards John Wall and Bradley Beal so bad that they dealt for an expiring contract that actually won’t make much of an impact this summer. It’s true that Barbosa (and, by extension, Jordan Crawford’s relatively tiny rookie contract) will be off the Wizards’ payroll come July 1, but the team isn’t looking at any cap space this summer with the team already on pace to go just about up to the salary cap with only nine players on the roster.
For Boston? They take a flier on Crawford, securing him for the final two years of a tiny deal (under $1.2 million this year, over $2.1 next season before becoming a restricted free agent) to see if they can talk some sense into the guy.
Crawford can score, but only if he’s allowed to shoot a lot. He’s the classic low-efficiency chucker – shooting 41 percent from the floor, a below-average mark from behind the arc, and rarely (3.4 times per 36 minutes) getting to the free throw line. He also averages 18.1 points per 36 minutes, but what does that matter when he’s taking 16.2 shots to get there, while working with plenty of chances in a Washington offense that currently ranks dead last in the NBA?
This is the guy that originally rose to fame by stuffing one over LeBron James in a confiscated video brouhaha from 2009. More recently, he’s made waves by telling reporters that he feels “like I’m better than” Michael Jordan, referring to himself as a “dominant scorer” and underrated passer, and utilizing his scouting skills to tell us all that, yep, Kobe Bryant actually hisses while on the basketball court.
So, he’s a character. One that can score, though, working on a tiny deal. For the price of absolutely nothing, he’s worth a shot – even if the Celtics (who have taken chances in recent years on Stephon Marbury and Nate Robinson) stuff him on the end of that Ubuntu-bench by the time the playoffs roll around.
To that end, and with the Celtics keeping the core intact even with Rondo’s departure, the move makes sense. The team has the option to shun the 24-year old, or turn him into something that helps. For the price of a player that wasn’t ever going to wear a Celtic uniform again, it makes sense.
If the Celtics are expecting anything major from Crawford right away, and before that attitude and shot selection overhaul, they might be left wanting. This is how things work, when you’re desperate.