Jamal Crawford is running in place. Literally and figuratively. It's about five minutes before tipoff, and the newest Golden State Warrior...
PORTLAND — Jamal Crawford is running in place. Literally and figuratively.
It’s about five minutes before tipoff, and the newest Golden State Warrior is working up a sweat on the Rose Garden sideline with stationary calisthenics.
Most of the sellout crowd has settled into their seats and the arena is crackling with excitement generated by Brandon Roy’s return from a four-game injury layoff and the Portland Trail Blazers’ postseason-caliber play.
Crawford has always been on the other side of these types of games, having never known how it feels to get wrapped up in the euphoria of a winning NBA team.
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For the third time in his nine-year career, the guard is with a young, rebuilding team. Once again, his season will end after the regular season and he’ll ponder an uncertain future that could include opting out of the final two years of a deal worth $19.4 million.
“It’s very important to find a place where I can be comfortable,” Crawford said. “In New York [Crawford played for the Knicks from 2004 until he was traded earlier this season], I thought I had that. I thought I’d be the last guy to get traded. I never heard my name out there ever, so that caught me off guard. But you know what, there comes a point in everybody’s career where change is good and I hope this is one of those cases.”
When you hold the longest active playoff drought, you tend to hope for the best.
The former Rainier Beach High School standout has played 566 games without a postseason appearance, which is sixth on the all-time list and yet considerably short of Tom Van Arsdale’s record of 929.
Golden State, which acquired Crawford on Nov. 21, has a plan to return to the playoffs that involves him. But then so did the Chicago Bulls, Crawford’s first team, and the Knicks.
“The reason we liked the trade so much is because we thought he could be a perfect fit with Monta [Ellis],” Warriors coach Don Nelson said.
The Warriors are committing wholeheartedly to Nellie-ball, a chaotic, offense-oriented style built on speed and sharpshooting. Conceivably, multiskilled players like Corey Maggette (signed last summer for $50 million), Ellis, Stephen Jackson and Crawford provide the scoring, while fourth-year center Andris Biedrins and young forwards Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph rebound.
A slew of injuries to Ellis, Jackson and Maggette, however, has forced the Warriors to put their playoff aspirations on hold until next season and given Crawford a platform to showcase his flamboyant skills. He scored 40 points in his Golden State home debut and tallied 50 against Charlotte five days before Christmas.
Saturday, he scored 19 in a 113-100 loss to the Blazers. Golden State (10-28), the youngest NBA team, displayed its youth in the final minutes, losing its fifth straight game. Crawford attempted just one shot, an errant mid-range jumper, down the stretch.
“I’m not so much concerned with how he [Crawford] fits in right now, more on how it’s all going to shake out when Monta returns,” Nelson said.
Crawford is excited about playing for Nelson, the 10th coach in his NBA career, and playing with Ellis, who is expected to return next month from offseason ankle surgery. When healthy, Crawford believes the Warriors have more talent than any team he’s ever been on.
Still, he’s unsure if they’re a playoff-caliber team in the near future and admittedly, he’s the wrong person to ask.
His teams have a 212-481 record, and none ever won more than 33 games in a season.
“It’s a combination of things, because you win as a team and you lose as a team,” Crawford said. “I’ve been in some situations. Some may have been my fault and some might not have.”
Crawford’s NBA career got off to an inauspicious start when Cleveland traded him on draft day to the Bulls, who posted 15-67 and 21-61 records his first two seasons. He came close to reaching the playoffs in 2007 before the Knicks faded in the second half.
Throughout all the losses, Crawford has never griped, never demanded a trade, and is accused of being too loyal.
“Maybe I am too loyal, I don’t know,” he said. “To me that’s what being a professional is. They don’t jump ship and run when things get tough. You stick it out and try to make things better.”
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Longest streaks of games played before making NBA playoffs|
|F Tom Van Arsdale||1965-77||929||15.3||Three-time All-Star arguably best to never make playoffs.|
|F Shareef Abdur-Rahim||1996-08||744||18.1||He made one playoff trip before injury forced retirement.|
|C Otto Moore||1968-77||682||8.2||Played for five teams; never made it to postseason.|
|G Nate Williams||1971-79||642||12.0||Almost: traded midway in ’75 from playoff-bound KC.|
|C Adonal Foyle||1997-09||641||4.1||Current Magic sub snapped streak in ’07 with Warriors.|
|G Jamal Crawford||2000-09||566||14.9||Fourth player in NBA to score 50 or more for three teams.|