After five steady years with the Los Angeles Clippers, 37-year-old guard Jamal Crawford joined the Minnesota Timberwolves this offseason, his seventh team in 18 seasons.
The Wolves have had a big offseason, trading for Jimmy Butler and signing Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson to build around a promising young core, but the move still came as a surprise.
At Crawford’s stage of his career, nobody could blame him for signing with a championship contender to chase an elusive ring. While Crawford was in negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors were rumoured to be interested, he signed a two-year, $US8.8 million deal with the Timberwolves.
While the Wolves may be improved this season, few consider them contenders. Crawford explained to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune why he chose the Wolves, fresh off a lottery season, over the Cavs or Warriors.
“I felt like the time is right. I felt like I could fit. At this point of my career, I could easily chase a championship. I’m not saying we won’t compete, but it’s not about that. I want to take the journey and go through the wars with these guys. The Cavs, they have been there. Those guys know what it’s like to be in the Finals and win a championship. The Warriors, same deal. If I went there and let’s say we happen to win, what’s next? Sometimes it’s more gratifying to help teams go from one point to another point.
“That’s the challenge. That’s what so fun about it. What if you went to the movies and knew how it ended when the movie started? It’s exciting because nobody really knows what we can be.”
Of course, one big factor that played into the decision was that the Wolves also offered more money. The Wolves were able to offer what’s called the “room exception” to Crawford, whereas the Cavs and Warriors could only offer less money. Crawford took the Wolves’ offer, despite reportedly being personally recruited to the Cavs by LeBron James.
Crawford, according to Spotrac, has made $US102 million in his career.
Nonetheless, Crawford’s logic is interesting. The Warriors and Cavs both seem poised to once again rule their respective conferences and may do so for the foreseeable future. While both teams have gotten solid role players to join on cheap contracts, not every player just wants to sign up for the chase. Some, like Crawford, value the process of growing with a team.