Jamal Crawford is signing with the Brooklyn Nets, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Crawford has not played in the NBA this season but was one of the most decorated free agents still on the market. He is a three-time Sixth Man of the Year recipient, and in his final game last season for the Phoenix Suns, he scored 51 points.
As Vince Carter’s Atlanta Hawks did not make it into the bubble, Crawford, at 40-years-old, is now the oldest remaining player in the NBA, beating out Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat by three months. He averaged 7.9 points per game for the Suns last season in a limited role. He has always been a strong scorer, but as he has aged, the rest of his game has declined.
The Nets sorely needed help on offense after a series of positive coronavirus tests and preexisting injuries decimated their roster leading up to the restarted season at Disney World. Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were already ruled out, but Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince all joined them in recent days after testing positive for COVID-19. Including the injured Nicolas Claxton, that left the Nets with four roster spots to fill even after adding Justin Anderson and Tyler Johnson during the NBA’s transaction window. Aside from Caris LeVert, Brooklyn did not have another obvious source of offense, so Crawford should be able to find plenty of shots.
The Nets currently lead the Washington Wizards for the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference by six games. However, the NBA’s new play-in format dictates that if the Wizards get within four games, they will have the opportunity to play the Nets for their spot. If they beat them twice in a row, the Wizards would get in. The Wizards have a number of absences of their own to contend with, though, as their three best players, Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans and John Wall, will all sit out at Disney. Based on that alone, the Nets should have a serious advantage in retaining their playoff spot.
If the Nets were to fall out of the postseason, though, their consolation prize would be their own first-round pick. It is currently owed to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but is top-14 protected. If it does not convey, they owe their pick to Minnesota next year, but with Durant and Irving set to return, it is likely to be a less valuable selection.
Initial reporting of the NBA’s rules suggested that Crawford might not be eligible to play, as he has not been on a roster this season. Those rules have since been loosened, though, and that works out just fine for a Nets team that is now desperate for the scoring Crawford theoretically provides.