One of the "he'll get ya' buckets" shooting guards on the market who best reflects the true meaning of that phrase -- shoots a lot, mildly inefficient, athletic, can't really guard anyone, has ballstopper tendencies -- is Jamal Crawford. The newest rumor producing a lot of smoke is a sign-and-trade deal with Atlanta that sends Ronnie Brewer to the Hawks, Steve Kyler tweeted (h/t: PBT):
That description isn't a negative, but a pretty accurate assessment of Crawford -- that what you see is what you get. That he's a guy who can have a big game one night and be wildly brick-tastic the next. But what sets Crawford apart and ups his value to the Bulls is a size (6'5" to 6'7", depending on the source) which allows him to play three positions, along with his ball handling ability and history as a point guard.
Also, this isn't the same 20-year-old who started his career in Chicago. Crawford's shown over the last two season in Atlanta that he wants to play in this league for a long time by increasing his long-range shooting tendencies without losing aggressiveness. Crawford's 3P% last season (.341) dropped his career percentage a tad (.350), but that was after shooting .382 and .360 the prior two seasons on a team without inside threats to open up the outside. There's no question that Crawford will get better looks to catch n' shoot with this Bulls than at any point of his career.
Playing with the Bulls bigs and Derrick Rose is a tactic that can keep the 31-year-old Crawford valuable for a three-year stint. He isn't a great defender, but the athleticism, length, and aggressiveness can be utilized by Tom Thibodeau to make Crawford a defensive asset instead of a liability. Thibs has placed a phone call to Crawford, K.C. Johnson recently reported.
The question becomes whether Crawford and Kyle Korver are disastrous tandems on the wings when opponents have the ball. Without Brewer, Crawford or Korver would almost need to start to limit their playing time together -- maximizing time with Luol Deng or Keith Bogans on the floor with them. That said, Omer Asik and Taj Gibson and becoming brick walls, preventing opponents' from being anywhere near efficient when attempting to crash the basket, so -- again -- Crawford can look a lot better than he actually on defense because of his stature, the team's spacing, and the skill-set of his teammates that smaller defensive liabilities can't mask.
Another concern is Crawford as a chucker. He's only posted an eFG% over .500 twice in his career (.545 in 2001-02 and .523 in 2009-10) for a scary career rate of .476, which would be of greater concern if his career FT% was a lot lower than his .846 rate, keeping his TS% at a respectable .526. If he was a guy scoring less points than he was logging field goal attempts or still taking five mid-range shots a game -- as he did with Golden State -- this would be scary. But his efficiency's improved over the last two seasons, scoring 18 points in 14 shots per game in 2010 and 14.2 in 11.5 shots per game last season. These aren't the signs of a chucker, but of a veteran better actualizing on which spots on the floor he gets the best looks and manufacturing ways to get to the free throw line.
I'm weary to jump at a package including Brewer to get Crawford from the Hawks -- as Crawford likely wouldn't sign for the $5 mid-level exemption, when he can make maybe 50-80% more per season elsewhere. But this is likely because the Hawks are more interested in Brewer than Korver, so the wiggle room likely isn't there.
Consistent, trustworthy leaks over the past two seasons that Crawford's overwhelmingly eager to win a championship pushes me toward the fence of buying such a deal. But if Taj or Omer are demanded in the package, pretty sure the Bulls would be smartest to pass -- and we should expect they will. Also, neither Taj nor Omer make enough for a trade to be legal under the salary cap rules. The only package I can really see working out with the dollars is Korver or C.J. Watson in the package with Brewer; under which case, the Bulls begin shopping for another guard to come off the bench.
Though Nick Young would be a better option if the Bulls can't land Arron Afflalo, both of their ages will make them very expensive -- in terms of salary and the players whom their teams will demand. Crawford may end up being the safest sign-and-trade option, as trading for Young or Afflalo could cost the Bulls the height on which they depended to win 62 games last season and make the Eastern Conference Finals.
If you're hoping Crawford may miraculously be willing to take MLE money, it's wise to stop. The Nets, Hornets, Heat, Lakers, Mavs, Suns, Magic and Blazers are also interested, according to PBT.
Stats via Basketball-Reference.com.