Jamal Crawford intriguing option for Celtics

Jamal Crawford intriguing option for Celtics
June 15, 2012, 4:52 pm
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BOSTON The Boston Celtics will indeed be in the market this summer for a veteran shooting guard, and Jamal Crawford just might fit the bill.

The 32-year-old combo guard told a Seattle television station on Thursday that he would not opt-in to the final year of his contract with Portland, which means he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

"I'm a free agent, so I'm excited about what's there moving forward," Crawford told Seattle television station KING. "There will be a lot of teams out there with a lot of interest. I'll sit back after July 1 (the day free agency begins) and see what happens."

In his lone season with Portland, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 14 points while shooting just 38-percent from the field and a career-low 30.8 percent on three-pointers.

His availability gives the Celtics yet another option as they enter the summer with significant cap space and significant questions as to how the team will be built moving forward.

The Celtics would love to have Ray Allen come back and resume the role he had in the second half of the season as a backup to Avery Bradley.

While Allen accepted the role, it wasn't one he totally embraced. It is unclear if he would be willing to return under those same conditions, and with what would likely be a one-year contract.

Having had his name involved in trade rumors the past couple of years, the soon-to-be-37-year-old Allen (his birthday is July 20) appears to be seeking a two-year deal.

"There's still a lot of basketball left in my legs," said Allen, who underwent right ankle surgery on Wednesday. "I know that for sure."

In addition to Allen, the Celtics are also unsure about another one of the team's free-agents-to-be, Mickael Pietrus who like Allen, had surgery earlier this week.

Although Pietrus has maintained all season that he wants to be in Boston long-term, his future will depend heavily on how strong other teams come at the Frenchman or whether the C's feel they can add a better player.

Which brings us back to Crawford, a player who would fit in well with Boston.

Having played both guard positions, he gives the C's the kind of flexibility they were hoping to have this season with Keyon Dooling.

And while Dooling is the superior defender, Crawford's ability to create his own shot and score is a skill that few current Celtics (Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce, truthfully) have.

Looking back at the past couple of seasons that ended at the hands of the Miami Heat, among the reasons for the Celtics' exit was their lack of players with the ability to generate their own individual offense.

Throw in the fact that Crawford is well-respected veteran who is close to one of the C's building blocks of the future, Avery Bradley who has often said that Crawford was a player he looked up to while growing up in the Seattle-Tacoma area, it makes a lot of sense for Crawford to be a player of interest for the Celtics.

Because the C's were so far over the salary cap last season, Crawford never gave Boston serious consideration before signing the two-year, 10.225 million with Portland.

Having played for 5 million last season, Crawford would most likely be seeking a similar deal this summer.

However, coming off a sub-par season coupled with an opportunity to play for a team that's focused solely on winning a championship every year, that just might be enough to entice him to take less money than he might get from another less-established team.

It would be the kind of deal that C's president of basketball operations Danny Ainge needs to pull off as he goes about assembling a Celtics team whose goal next season will be no different than it was this past season - bring home Banner 18.

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