Jae Crowder, a gritty two-way wing, maybe flew under the radar when he was included in the blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston and Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, and Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick to Cleveland. But during his introductory press conference on Thursday, Crowder revealed he had some uncertainty about his role moving forward with the Celtics, especially with the amount of players on the roster at his position.
“Yeah I was a little concerned because we had a lot of wing players stacking up,” he said. “It was a little concerning, and I made it clear to the organization that I was concerned about it, and I just wanted some more direction, you know? I think they gave it to me with the trade. They gave me what they wanted to do, they showed me what they wanted to do. I respected it.”
Boston opened free agency by signing Gordon Hayward — a player Crowder beefed with last season — to a four-year, $127.8 million deal. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge also drafted Jayson Tatum, a versatile scoring forward, No. 3 overall in last year’s draft, before dealing away Avery Bradley for another wing in Marcus Morris.
That makes four talented wings when you include Jaylen Brown without Crowder.
Crowder seemed at peace with the trade.
On the same day he learned he’d been traded to Cleveland, his mother passed away after a battle with cancer. Crowder, though, said he was able to whisper to his mother that he was going to Cleveland “like five minutes” before she passed away.
He now hopes to form a dominant defensive presence on the Cavaliers next to LeBron James, and head coach Tyronn Lue has already had dreams about putting those two on the court together.
Jae Crowder says he's gonna be scared for opponents with how dominant he and LeBron are defensively.— Kristian Winfield (@Krisplashed) September 7, 2017
Asked if he’s given any thought to what Crowder and James can give defensively, Lue responded with a Cheshire cat grin, “Yes I have. He continued, “Great question. But I think adding a guy like Jae who can guard four positions, he’s gonna make it easy for LeBron. Having Jae and LeBron on the floor together at the three-four. Jae can always guard the tougher opponent, which allows ‘Bron to roam, which he loves to do on defense and pick off steals and passes and anchor our defense by talking and communicating.
“So it’s gonna be a great duo defensively and I’m excited for it.”