Warriors, Hawks complete trade for Crawford
AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) – The Hawks acquired guard Jamal Crawford from the Golden State Warriors on Thursday for guards Acie Law and Speedy Claxton, hours before the NBA draft.
Crawford, who had his differences with Golden State coach Don Nelson, provides the Hawks with depth and flexibility in the backcourt. Starting point guard Mike Bibby and backup combo guard Flip Murray are both unrestricted free agents after helping Atlanta reach the second round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade.
The deal was completed after Crawford signed paperwork indicating he won’t opt out of his contract and become a free agent. He is due to make nearly $20 million the next two years.
The 29-year-old Crawford averaged 19.7 points, 4.4 assists and 3.0 rebounds last season, but he wasn’t in the Warriors’ plans.
Monta Ellis has already been made Golden State’s starting point guard heading into training camp. New general manager Larry Riley and Nelson recently visited Ellis in Memphis to tell him how important he is to the franchise.
“We feel we have gained tremendous flexibility with the addition of Jamal,” Hawks general manager Rick Sund said. “He gives us balance in the backcourt, having produced at both point guard and shooting guard positions. Not only is Jamal a talented scorer, but he can also deliver quality production down the stretch of games.”
The Warriors acquired Crawford from the New York Knicks early last season. Claxton and Law played sparingly in Atlanta, the trade mainly providing the Warriors some additional room under the salary cap.
The Hawks, coming off their second straight trip to the playoffs, needed some insurance in case Bibby and Murray sign elsewhere.
Crawford provides it.
“He’s another veteran piece that makes a lot of sense for our ballclub,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “Jamal’s a great talent offensively and only enhances what we are trying to do.”
Bibby averaged 14.9 points and 5.0 assists, giving the Hawks their first true point guard since Mookie Blaylock. Murray chipped in with a 12.2 scoring average.
The 31-year-old Claxton was a fan favorite during two seasons with the Warriors from 2003-05 but has been hampered by knee problems and other ailments. He was a huge bust in Atlanta after signing a four-year, $25.5 million contract in 2006, going more than two years without playing.
Law, a first-round pick from Texas A&M in 2007, never panned out, either. He averaged 3.6 points in 111 games over two seasons with the Hawks.
Nelson indicated to Crawford during the season that he wasn’t in the team’s future plans. Nelson sat Crawford for a game against Charlotte on Feb. 27 and he was benched twice in one week during March. He then missed another game after asking for more practice time to prepare following the benchings.
Ellis, who signed a $66 million, six-year deal after averaging a career-best 20.2 points during the 2007-08 season, averaged 19 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists last season.
He was limited to 25 games because of a serious ankle injury last summer in a motorized scooter accident that resulted in a 30-game suspension without pay from the team.
Riley said he would consider picking a point guard with the No. 7 selection in Thursday night’s NBA draft, but power forward Jordan Hill of Arizona also was high on his wish list.
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Oakland, Calif., contributed to this report.