How much was Jordan Crawford ready to leave Washington? His trade to the Boston Celtics didn’t become official until close to 6 p.m. but he was already in Phoenix – after connecting in Atlanta – nearly eight hours later.
Crawford woke up, took his physical and was on the court Friday night to help the Celtics thump the Suns, 113-88.
“Didn’t get a lot of sleep,” Crawford told reporters in Phoenix before scoring 10 points in his Celtics debut.
In contrast, veteran Jason Collins – the only player the Wizards got back in the deal who will actually suit up for the team – didn’t arrive until Saturday. Crawford certainly has more to prove, with his career still in its early stages and he was anxious to play after falling out of the rotation in Washington.
“I think it was time,” Crawford said. “I’m looking forward to a new situation. And just to help this team win, like they’ve been winning for years. I’m excited.”
The Celtics certainly have a need for Crawford after losing guards Rajon Rondo and Leandro Barbosa to torn ACLs in the past month. Coach Doc Rivers gave Crawford 17 minutes in the blowout, which is the most playing time he’s received since Feb. 1 in Memphis. He didn’t appear in any of his last four games with the Wizards.
Crawford averaged 13.2 points this season but had no interest in playing limited minutes for a team that allowed him to average nearly 36 minutes in December, when he contributed 19.1 points, 6.1 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He certainly needed a change of scenery after wearing out his welcome with Coach Randy Wittman, who didn’t want him around to disrupt the progress of Bradley Beal or even the improved play of Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza.
“The situation arose, the minutes weren’t what I think he wanted and what it was at one time. It changed. And that happens all the time in this game,” Wittman said. “Roles fluctuate and in this business, you got to stay committed, no matter if it’s happening good for you or not. That’s the main thing. That applies to all of our guys. Being in this league as long as I have, I’ve seen guys play 13, 14 years, just by taking that approach.”
In Boston, Crawford will be back around veterans, as he was his first few months in Atlanta. But as a slightly more established player, he will be looked upon to give them more quality minutes.
“It can benefit me a lot, because I’m only in my third year, so still a lot to learn, with a lot of guys that know how to play the game of basketball, make it easier on you,” Crawford said, adding that his role is to “just to come in, be myself, compete. And help this team. They are doing a great job, pulling out a lot of wins with a depleted lineup. Just come in and try to help with whatever they need.”
Crawford will be teammates with Kevin Garnett, with whom he had a publicized dust-up with the future Hall of Fame big man during a pickup game in Los Angeles during the lockout. Garnett wasn’t pleased with Crawford’s trash talk, Paul Pierce tried to separate the two, and Garnett reportedly smacked Crawford in the head. Asked about the incident, Crawford said it wasn’t a big deal.
“It was never a thing. It was just basketball. Now we’re on the team, hopefully I can help them,” Crawford said.
Garnett sat out Friday’s game, with Rivers giving the 36-year-old big man the night off on the third game in four nights. But Crawford is looking forward to learning from him, Pierce and others.
“I think, just to see his intensity every game, should help you get up every game, allow you to bring your best. He’s been doing it for this long, so it’ll be great,” Crawford said of Garnett. “I’m looking forward to just see how they approach every day.”
Crawford said he found out about the trade while watching television and was nervous about joining the NBA’s most storied franchise. “I didn’t know how to take it. Boston Celtics, that carries a lot of weight.”