Jamal Crawford has told the Hawks he wants to be traded before the 2010-11 season if the team doesn’t offer a contract extension to his liking, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Crawford, whose current contract expires after the season, asked the Hawks for an extension last month but has yet to receive an answer from the team. If Atlanta balks at offering Crawford what he considers an extension reflecting his market value then he would rather play elsewhere for the final season of his contract, according to the person familiar with the circumstances.
The person did not want to be identified because neither Crawford nor the Hawks have commented on his desire for an extension. Hawks GM Rick Sund, who is on vacation, declined comment tonight through a team spokesman.
Sund’s practice has been to not extend contracts for veteran players who aren’t on their rookie-scale contracts.
Crawford, 30, will make $10.1 million in 2010-11. The Hawks acquired him in a trade with Golden State last summer and he thrived in a reserve role, often finishing games alongside Joe Johnson.
Crawford averaged 18 points during the regular season and 16.3 in the playoffs, both second on the team behind Johnson. Members of the media voted Crawford the league’s Sixth Man of the Year.
According to the person familiar with the situation, Crawford prefers to stay in Atlanta after he qualified for the playoffs for the first time in his 11 NBA seasons. But without a long-term commitment from the Hawks Crawford doesn’t want to play out the final season of his contract in Atlanta, the person said.
The Hawks may not have the financial will to add an extension for Crawford to their future salary commitments.
Signing Crawford to a large extension would likely push the Hawks’ 2010-11 payroll above the salary cap. Atlanta has about $50 million in salaries committed to 2011-12, including $18 million for Johnson and $12.4 million for forward Josh Smith.
In addition to those committed salaries, the Hawks might need to maintain flexibility to retain All-Star center Al Horford. Atlanta can work out a contract extension with Horford by November; if not, he would become a restricted free agent next season and could sign an offer sheet with another team that the Hawks would have the right to match.
If the Hawks decide to trade Crawford, they likely wouldn’t have much trouble finding good value in return. His scoring ability and expiring contract make him a valuable asset for teams seeking a talented shooting guard and/or salary relief following the season.
Crawford is seeking a contract extension while his value is high, but the uncertainty surrounding the expiring collective bargaining agreement and deals signed by other top sixth men also likely are contributing to his urgency.
The current labor agreement expires after the 2010-11 season and owners are seeking major concessions from players for the new CBA. If Crawford becomes a free agent next summer, he could be facing more restrictive contract rules under the new labor deal.
In determining his market value, Crawford is likely looking to contracts signed by fellow veteran reserve guards Manu Ginobili, Jason Terry and Ben Gordon.
Ginobili, who turned 33 last month, signed a three-year extension with San Antonio in April that’s worth about $39 million. Terry was 29 when Dallas signed him to a free-agent contract for $57 million over six years. And Gordon was 26 when he signed with Detroit last summer for five years and $58 million with a player option for the final season.