According to a Chris Haynes report on ESPN, Jamal Crawford is planning to opt out of his 2018-19 contract, which would have paid him $4.5 million.
This is surprising, at least to me; I would have doubted there were better options out there for Crawford, but he must be confident he can find work for similar or better money if he is going this route. Whether his reduced minutes (20 per game) compared to previous seasons and/or his relationship with coach Tom Thibodeau has anything to do with this decision we probably won’t ever know, but it gives the Wolves another roster spot to manage this summer, and perhaps a bit more freedom to use the Mid-Level Exception.
Crawford, while he could make an impression with his shot-making and occasionally got hot, was a poor signing from the outset and really hurt the team, especially defensively, where his presence on the floor seemed to send the Wolves spiraling. Though apparently a beloved figure in the locker room, on the court his reputation far outpaced his contributions.
His net on/off was -13 per 100 possessions, by far the worst for any Wolves player with significant playing time. Defensively, the team was eight points/100 better without him out there, and five points better on offense.
He served as the Wolves sixth man this season, and was expected to bring a spark off the bench, especially with his scoring. But his inconsistencies, tendency to over-dribble, and point-leaking at the defensive end wound up being serious problems for the Wolves, who need better shooting and defense from the wing spots.
It was not a great match, and the Wolves bench, underutilized as it was, struggled. With Crawford opting out, Derrick Rose a free agent, and Nemanja Bjelica a restricted free agent, the Wolves have the need and opportunity to remake their reserves into a more functional, successful unit.
It’s up to Tom Thibodeau to make that happen, and then use those players in ways that help the team as we head into next season.