Jordan Crawford and the Celtics are facing the Wizards this afternoon, which means it's time for Boston-area reporters to get their questions in about returning to face his former team. From the sounds of it, Crawford is somewhat regretful of how things went down, but not completely.
First, the regret. Via Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:
The guard sat out his last four games prior to his trade to the Celtics last February, after alienating Wizards management with his emotional response to the rise of John Wall and Bradley Beal ahead of him in the rotation.
"I knew it was coming, but I should have been more professional with it," Crawford said yesterday of his response to being bumped out of a starting role last season after Wall returned from injury.
But there was also this when Crawford was asked about the differences between current Celtics coach Brad Stevens, under whom he's thriving, and Wizards coach Randy Wittman.
"It makes a difference for everybody. You can't be a point guard and playing against your coach and the other team," Crawford said of the confidence factor. "If a coach (backs) you, then you have somebody riding with you, somebody who has your back. Even if you're wrong they're still going to be on your side, and that's good."
Crawford later said that, looking back, he would have accepted a sixth man role, but struggled to deal with it because "we weren't a good team." In other words: why come off the bench on one of the worst teams in the league after what I did in December?
More on Jordan Crawford
More on Jordan Crawford
It's awfully tempting to place all the blame at one side for what went down last January, but that's also misleading. Crawford deserves blame because he did not handle the situation well, and I think even he'd admit that. The attitude he displayed before being dealt was not appropriate. Even if fences could have been mended, he probably needed a new situation to thrive. (Keep in mind that this was the second time he had been traded since being drafted. That tends to wake someone up).
At the same time, I do think Crawford has a point that the situation wasn't especially well-handled by the Wizards' coaching staff or the front office. How much communication did Wittman have with Crawford after he was benched? What was the nature of those conversations? We don't know the answer to these questions, but part of a coach's job is to manage personalities like Crawford. That Crawford acted out like he did is also a poor reflection on his manager, which, in this case, is Wittman.
Then, of course, there was the return package. The Wizards dealt Crawford for two veteran players that weren't ever going to factor into their future. Jason Collins provided some nice professionalism for a half a season, but has not been re-signed or picked up elsewhere. Leandro Barbosa has not and will not play for the team, and may not play elsewhere. There was a tiny bit of salary relief for this year, but it was negligible. (Put it this way: the money that Crawford would make this year essentially went to Eric Maynor). The Wizards dealt Crawford at his lowest value and got nothing in return instead of sticking it out, trying to fix their problem internally and getting more value later.
Point being: this was a situation where everyone deserves some level of blame. Crawford himself is the first one to blame because his attitude caused the ripple effect, but the Wizards also didn't handle it especially well from there.
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