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The Sixers should have zero interest in Jamal Crawford

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that according to sources, the Sixers are interest in free agent Jamal Crawford.

I’ll keep this one short. I was absolutely horrified to see the rumor that the Sixers are interested in Jamal Crawford. If they actually sign him, I will likely slide into a depression. But just the fact that the team would consider such a thing — if indeed it is true — makes me extremely uneasy about our decision-making process. Hopefully it was just Crawford’s agent trying to gin up interest. I suppose there are worse moves the team could make than signing Crawford, but most of them would be met by disciplinary action from the league.

Let me start by taking my hat off to Jamal Crawford. He has accomplished extraordinary things in his 18-year career. His longevity is absolutely astonishing. Kudos to him!

But, now, entering his age 38 season, he is just an absolutely terrible NBA player. He doesn’t do anything well, and hasn’t for years. Even in his prime he was known as a poor defender, and he is well past his prime. He made his reputation as a shooter, but last year he shot 33% from three, and over the past four years he’s averaged 34%. So he’s not good at long-distance shooting, but that doesn’t stop him from doing it constantly (almost 7 attempts per 36 last year!). It’s understandable, because he really doesn’t contribute in any other way; he has so few rebounds that I wondered if I was looking at the wrong column, and while his assists, at around 4 per 36 minutes, are not embarrassing, they aren’t very good either. Then I reminded myself that he’s pushing 40 and wasn’t a superstar in his prime, i.e. this is not late-30s Vince Carter or LeBron we’re talking about. So as a human, again, I say it’s a miracle he’s out there at all, getting even a single rebound. But as a member of a team of players trying to win games, his numbers are devastatingly bad. He rarely gets a steal or block; his turnovers are basically double his stocks, which is not good. His plus-minus numbers are wretched; RAPM last year of -4.19, among the very worst figures in the Association; worse than Jahlil Okafor! Indeed all his advanced metrics are awful, I won’t detail them here except to say that we usually argue here about players with BPM around 3, and Jamal is below -3; indeed almost -4. Yes, that’s a minus sign!

And remember, those are the numbers from last year and before; in 2018-19 he will be older and can reasonably be expected to be significantly worse; there’s a reason players retire rather than just keep going forever, which is that each year you go deeper into your 30s you tend to play worse. By the late 30s the best guess is you’ll be a lot worse each year. Sometimes people delude themselves that certain players are ageless; I remember being told that because of his skill and workout regimen Jerry Rice was immune to Father Time. But the season after that conversation Rice had declined considerably, and soon after he was retired. Hell, Jamal himself is in rapid decline, his last four BPM figures are -1, -2.6, -3.0, -3.9. I ask the mathematically-inclined among you: what’s the next number in that sequence?

Now, if we were to sign Crawford for the minimum as a sort of veteran-leader “coach among the players,” that would be extremely damaging for several reasons:

  1. He has a reputation as a good player so it’s likely Brett would actually use him, which would really hurt the team.
  2. He played a lot last year and apparently wants to play more this time around, so if he was benched as would be appropriate for such a bad player, he’s likely to be discontented.
  3. We are very short on roster spots, so signing Crawford would mean getting rid of a player with at least a little bit of promise, someone like Justin Anderson or TLC.

So as I say, that would be a horror show. But the truth, I fear, is much, much worse. Crawford turned down a player option for $4.3M, if I am reading the situation correctly. That means that any team pursuing him is doing so on the understanding that they’ll likely have to pay him over $5M/year. That is a ton of money in this environment. You might be able to get a late first-round pick for taking on someone else’s $5M mistake. Quality players like Aron Baynes — I won’t even get into the insane Boogie Cousins situation — are signing for $5M. It would be malpractice of the highest order to pay $5M for a player who is among the very worst in the league.

Please, please, Brett or whomever is calling the shots in Camden, please don’t let this happen. It would do major short-term damage, and it would severely harm my faith in the team’s leadership. I’m already devastated that we have seemingly made no attempt whatsoever to sign Tyreke Evans. Let’s not compound the problem by adding Crawford.