Celtics Could Pursue Suns’ Jae Crowder with TPE: NBA Exec


Brad Stevens, Celtics

The Celtics have several traded-player exceptions to take advantage of this NBA offseason, although of course one big one is on the horizon: the $17.1 million exception from Evan Fournier’s trade with the Knicks last season . The trick is, how can they actually get a player to tick all the boxes required to use this exception?

The boxes are something like this:

Someone that team president Brad Stevens wants to bring in who’s a chemical fit.

Someone with two-way ability that Ime Udoka will actually put on the floor.

Someone that another team would like to give away without losing a lot of assets to Boston.

Finding all three won’t be easy. The third aspect may be the most difficult, as the Celtics have dropped their first-rounders in the past two drafts and Stevens is wary of giving up another first-round pick. The Celtics aren’t overloaded with second-round picks either. They have two next season but only one in the following four drafts.

One name that has emerged as a possibility that can fill all three Celtics requirements: former Celtics forward Jae Crowder.

Jae Crowder is “affordable” with TPE.

As an Eastern Conference executive told Heavy.com, Crowder is “reachable” because the Suns are looking to cut her salary and there’s a feeling he’s at the beginning of his career decline. He will be 32 next week.

“He’s a guy that I think makes the most sense for them because he has the toughness that they want,” the manager said. “He’s been in the finals, he’s played deep in the playoffs for many years and they could use another big guy to stretch the floor. And Ime loves a tough guy, that’s the kind of player he was. The Suns are looking to rake in some cash and he’s in the final year of his deal. It’s not a big liability for them if it doesn’t work. But he didn’t shoot well last year and he’s a step slower, so you have to be aware of that. But you know, they have to find a veteran who has that little bit more to give that fits what Ime wants.”

Crowder established himself as a key veteran with the Heat two years ago during the COVID-19-disrupted season when he averaged 11.9 points in 20 games and shot 44.5% from the 3-point line after breaking out of Memphis had been traded. He was similarly effective in 2020-21 after signing with Phoenix, making 38.9% of his 3s and averaging 10.1 points for a team that advanced to the finals.

However, last year Crowder dropped from the 3-point line to 34.8% and struggled in the second half of the season, making just 33.1% as of February 1st.

Crowder’s history with the Celtics

Crowder has history with the Celtics, having been traded to the team in 2014 as the most prolific returnee in the Rajon Rondo trade. He spent three productive seasons in Boston, averaging 12.8 points and 5.2 rebounds, and established himself as a hard-working high-flyer that fans enjoyed.

However, Crowder had a falling out with Boston fans in January 2017 when the local crowd cheered for Gordon Hayward, then a member of the Visiting Jazz who was considered the Celtics’ top free-agent target that summer. As a crowder said then“I heard the cheers [for Hayward] before the game. I didn’t like that at all. I think that was a sign of the fans disrespect towards me. That kindled a little fire in me.”

Crowder was traded to the Cavaliers this offseason as part of the Kyrie Irving trade. Coincidentally, he was traded from Cleveland to Utah later that season.

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