Reigning Sixth Man of the Year and unrestricted free agent Jamal Crawford has agreed to re-sign with the Clippers on a three-year, $42 million deal, according to USA Today's Sam Amick.
Last year, in his fourth season with the Clippers, Crawford did what he's known for: get buckets. He averaged 14 points in 27 minutes per game and created almost 60 percent of his makes. At 36 years of age he's still someone who can get his shot off against anyone, even if his efficiency remains low. The problem with Crawford is that his shot-making might not be good enough anymore to offset the negative impact he has in other areas of the game.
Shooting 40 percent from the floor and 34 percent on three-pointers is not good even for a high usage gunner. Crawford has nights in which he carries the offense -- he had four 30+ games this past season -- but he's just as likely to shoot his team out of the game. That has always been the case, but now that the bad performances come more often his flaws in other areas become harder to ignore, especially on defense.
Crawford is still a valuable player. He's the quintessential bench sparkplug and in a pinch can also create for others and help with ball handling duties. Surrounded by quality teammates, he helps more than he hurts the team. He just can't prop up bench lineups on his own anymore, which takes away from his value as sixth man, no matter how many awards he gets. Whenever Doc Rivers trotted out all sub units, the offense struggled. The Clippers' bench was a mess outside of Crawford, so he's not solely to blame, but he didn't offer solutions either.
Crawford is entering a new stage in his career in which he will need help carrying a second unit. His ability to score still allows him to contribute on offense, but he will need to be surrounded with players who can mask his weaknesses.
The Clippers are surely aware of that and will have to think about it as they rebuild their bench. Parting ways with one of the few valuable subs they have had in years, however, clearly wasn't an option. Banking on continuity is the way to go for a team that has one superstar in the tail end of his prime and another entering his. By re-signing Crawford they are making sure they have their core together for one more ride.
As much as he struggled at times leading bench units, Crawford excelled when he got to share the court with the stars, which should continue to be the case. If Rivers mixes and matches, leaving at least one of his best players on the court with Crawford, he should still be a quality rotation piece. The Clippers need as many of those as they can get.