The Cleveland Cavaliers have a limited number of resources and cap space to work with this summer. As a result of this, they don’t exactly get the pick of the litter when it comes to free agency. One thing they can count on as a contender, is the interest of aging veterans that are looking to chase a ring. The latest case of this is Jamal Crawford showing interest in the team.
Crawford, 37, secured a buyout from the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and is a free agent. Terms of the buyout were not immediately disclosed, but he was owed at least $17.2 million of the $28.75 million left on his contract.
Sources confirmed to cleveland.com that the Cavs were indeed interested in the 17-year vet. A source close to Crawford called him "Cleveland's to lose."
The Cavs are millions of dollars over the salary cap, so the most they could offer Crawford is their taxpayer's mid-level exception, worth $5.2 million.
Crawford is a streaky volume scorer that is capable of providing some ball handling. If it was either or, I would prefer to have Crawford over Jose Calderon. Especially when you consider that Kyrie Irving typically plays point guard whenever LeBron James is on the bench. So having a player like Crawford play next to Irving makes far more sense than Calderon.
Where things get complicated is determining how much it would cost to bring Crawford on board. Per Vardon’s report, it may cost the entire mid-level exception.
Jamal Crawford would play for the Cavaliers if they offer him the full $5.2 million they can pay to any free agent, sources told cleveland.com.
Offering Crawford the full mid-level exception would be unwise for several reasons. First, he doesn’t really help the team play against the Golden State Warriors. He’s an aging poor defensive player that would be a decent add as a luxury for the minimum, but not the feature signing of the summer using one of the only assets the team has at it’s disposal.
The other issue is that this would complicate the Cavs ability to sign Cedi Osman, as they need to use a portion of the exception in order to sign him. Blowing the team’s only chip in free agency and preventing the team from adding a young athletic talent just to add Crawford would not be a wise decision.
It’s probably worth noting that most of the interest in Crawford has come from him reaching out to the Cavaliers. While James has talked to him and the Cavs have also shown some interest in return, I don’t know if they would (or should) be willing to sign him for more than the veteran minimum.
There are still players like Thabo Sefolosha, Gerald Henderson, and even C.J. Miles (if he’s willing to take a pay-cut) that would help address actual needs for the MLE. So signing Crawford to the full MLE at this stage of free agency would be far from their best course of action.