Now that the dust has settled from July’s free agency frenzy, more and more details are starting to emerge about how teams tried to pitch free agents on why they should join their team.
In a recent interview with Tom Westerholm of MassLive, Jae Crowder talked about the pitch the Celtics made to recruit Al Horford to Boston, and more importantly, keep him away from Washington:
He's a perfect fit. That's what we were telling him. He had Washington and some other teams looking at him, but we beat them four times this year. You don't want to go there. We play through our bigs, and a lot of teams don't play through their bigs — they post them up and give them the ball. Our bigs, like he did in Atlanta, he makes the play. We were explaining our basketball terminology to him, and how ours will fit right in with (his) game. It's going to mesh. Most guys have to blend in and fit in, but it's going to be automatically just there. The style he plays, that's what we reiterated to him: The way we play fits you so well. We need you. You need us. Let's make it happen.
To be fair, Crowder didn’t say anything incorrect. The Celtics did sweep the Wizards this season, and won three of the four by at least 20 points. The only game that was close was decided by — you guessed it — a game winning shot by Jae Crowder:
Crowder has a right to boast about Boston’s success about Washington, but likewise, the Wizards have a right to take it as bulletin board material for next season. From the looks of things, it looks like they already have:
@ByJayKing @Tom_NBA did The screen Shot !! Thx man !— Marcin Gortat (@MGortat) July 21, 2016
And if you’ll recall, this isn’t the first time Jae Crowder has traded barbs with the Wizards. Last season, he accused Randy Wittman of shouting expletives at him during a game, a claim Wittman later disputed.
If nothing else, next season’s Wizards-Celtics games should be pretty chippy, which is always fun. Anything would beat how miserable those games were this season.
If there’s a lesson to learn from Crowder’s comments, it’s that the best way to recruit a superstar is to be a really good team. Washington’s gamble that they could have their cake (be a successful team) and eat it too (stay competitive in the Eastern Conference with a roster filled with players on expiring deals) really came back to bite them in more ways than one.