- The Phoenix Suns announced they are going to trade forward Jae Crowder.
- Crowder is a burly, 3-and-D wing with playoff experience and a good fit with any contending team.
- It’s likely every contender gets in on the race for Crowder, who is the type of player not often available.
The hottest player on the NBA trade market is likely to be a 32-year-old veteran forward with a career scoring average of 9.6 points per game.
The Phoenix Suns announced on Sunday that they are working to find a new team for Jae Crowder and that he would not take part in training camp.
Crowder, a 6-foot-6 3-and-D wing, is the type of player every team needs and rarely becomes available: a burly vet with playoff experience and the ability to space the floor and defend an opponent’s best player.
In a summer highlighted by the Kevin Durant sweepstakes and the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster, the Suns could suddenly find themselves inundated with offers for Crowder. It’s unusual for such a player to be widely available at this juncture of the year.
Crowder isn’t a marksman from downtown, but he’s shot a tidy 35.5% from three over his last six seasons. He shot 40.7% from the corners. And last year, the Suns defended at a rate that would have led the league with Crowder on the floor.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe described Crowder as the NBA’s “premier role player.”
And while Crowder doesn’t have a championship, he has a track record of success: He’s made the playoffs every season since 2013, including one Eastern Conference Finals with the Boston Celtics, in 2017, and back-to-back Finals in 2020 and 2021 with the Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns, respectively.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charaniathe Celtics, Heat, Memphis Grizzlies, and Dallas Mavericks are all potential suitors for Crowder — and all teams he has played for.
Of course, the list surely won’t stop there: Virtually any contender with a need on the wing would love to add Crowder, who is in the final season of his contract and owed $10 million.
The Los Angeles Lakers have a dire need for shooting and perimeter defense.
A player like Crowder would only push the Cleveland Cavaliers — fresh off the blockbuster trade for Mitchell — closer to championship contention.
The Raptors have a collection of long, defensive-minded players under 6-foot-9, and Crowder would fit right in.
The Philadelphia 76ers could use Crowder’s on-court skills and the intangibles he brings.
Lowe previously reported that at each of Crowder’s stops, he has brought a fiery intensity and willingness to call out star players that has benefited those teams. The Heat, for example, valued Crowder’s willingness to “confront” Jimmy Butler, according to Lowe.
As for what Crowder might fetch on the trade market, it’s a little complicated. Recent trades have suggested that Crowder could fetch a first-round pick.
However, the Suns’ finances might play a factor. If the Suns can trade Crowder to a team with cap space, they wouldn’t have to take any salary back in return and could save money this season. One league source suggested this might be a priority with Robert Sarver selling the Suns, as a team with a lighter payroll and tax situation could make them even more attractive to potential buyers.
Only two teams currently have cap space, and neither are contenders — the San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers. Either could be interested in taking on Crowder to flip him for something of value later in the season.
Otherwise, the Suns might have to engage in a balancing act — trying to get players who could fit in their rotation and replace Crowder, while taking as little money back as possible.
The same league source was unsure if Crowder could fetch a first-round pick, noting that 3-and-D forward/center PJ Tucker was traded to the Toronto Raptors for two second-round picks in 2017. Of course, the price for impactful role players have only gone up since then.
Crowder’s availability won’t hold up NBA transactions the way Durant’s did earlier this season, but rarely is a player who’s such a seamless fit so readily available.