By John Schmeelk
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Watching Knicks fans pine for Jamal Crawford the last few days has been confusing and disconcerting. Despite doing nothing but losing with Crawford as one of the Knicks key cogs, fans have fond memories of him during his time as a Knicks. He played with a certain amount of flash, and hit a number of big shots at the end of games. Jamal Crawford is also exactly what the Knicks don’t need.
The way the Knicks are constructed, their offense is going to work through Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, who both need the basketball and are going to take most of the shots. For everything Jamal Crawford does well, he needs the ball in his hands. By the way, being a distributor and willing passer is not one of the things Crawford does well. Crawford is a shoot first player that has a very questionable shot selection.
Crawford had some success running the pick and roll with Eddy Curry, but more times than not those plays wound up in a Jamal Crawford isolation that ended in a contested jump shot. How will Stoudemire and Anthony feel as they watch Crawford dribble the shot clock away and then fire a 20 footer with a hand in the face instead of giving one of them the ball? I’m betting that won’t go so well. Crawford is also coming off one of the worst years of his career, averaging only 14 points per game.
Some fans argue that his three point shooting would help the Knicks spread the floor, opening things up for their stars. Unfortunately, Crawford is far more comfortable shooting off the dribble than acting like a catch and shoot guy. It’s possible he could adjust to that role, but why take that chance? He is also a poor defender on the ball and off. The Knicks are trying to reestablish some kind of defensive identity. They already brought in one defensively deficient guard in Mike Bibby. They don’t need another in Crawford. Sure, he would provide a spark off the bench and offense when Stoudemire and/or Anthony are on the bench, but he is far from the Knicks greatest need.
Now, I would be more willing to invite Crawford on board if all it would cost was the 2.5 million “room exception”, since he is the most talented player gettable player left out there. But it looks like it could cost the Knicks Toney Douglas or Landry Fields in a sign and trade. With the Knicks lack of point guards, trading Douglas is a non-starter, despite his playmaking shortcomings. Fields is more of an option, but he can provide more of what the Knicks needs as a defender, rebounder, and spot up shooter.
The Knicks better move quickly, too. The longer they wait on Crawford, the longer Shawne Williams has to sign a contract elsewhere. Williams gave the Knicks everything they needed last year: a tall and reliable defender that could hit the open three. Guys like that don’t grow on trees and he would fit in nicely when the Knicks played small ball with Stoudemire at center.
Honestly, I never understood the Knicks fans love for Jamal Crawford. At times he seemed like the lone bright spot in years of despair, but fans never seemed to realize that he was part of the problem. He played no defense and too often took terrible shots outside the flow of the offense. Yes, he could score in bursts with anyone, but he wasn’t efficient and missed far more shots than he made. A good guy, and teammate by all accounts, he is not putting anyone over the top for a championship, especially the New York Knicks.
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