On Sunday, the Phoenix Suns sent out a press release that they and starting forward Jae Crowder “have mutually agreed that he will not be with the team for training camp”.
Crowder-time is over, Suns fans.
All summer Crowder’s name has been mentioned in trade talks by the Suns, while Crowder has been periodically firing back on social media with hints that he’s ready for a change.
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.. GROWTH IS OPTIONAL.!! I BELIEVE ITS TIME FOR A CHANGE… I WANNA CONTINUE GROWING.!— JAE CROWDER (@CJC9BOSS) August 1, 2022
Fans hoped maybe Crowder was simply at the hair salon, ready for a new style, but the writing has been on the wall for a while.
He also ‘liked’ several social media posts from other teams’ fans wanting Crowder on their team.
Then a few days ago, Crowder posted this hype video on Instagram.
Okay I know everybody’s mad at Jae Crowder but the man posted his own trade hype video on Instagram and this is everything people love and hate about Bossman all at once pic.twitter.com/q24QrrKt30— Gerald Bourguet (@GeraldBourguet) September 25, 2022
The video starts with the ‘F*** Jae Crowder’ chants from last year’s Pelicans series and Crowder’s sunglass-covered post-game smiling face overlaid, then moves to a clip of ESPN’s Brian Windhorst saying the Suns were actively trying to trade Crowder, followed by two minutes of video of Crowder working out with overdubs of famous people talking about never being outworked.
Like I said, it’s over folks.
The Phoenix Suns and Jae Crowder have mutually agreed that the veteran forward will not participate in training camp as the sides work on a trade, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 25, 2022
Again this has been going on all summer. Jae Crowder requested a trade back in July and now the Suns will sit back and wait for the right deal for both them and Jae Crowder. There's absolutely no need to rush this from the Suns perspective. https://t.co/vAN2yve7tA— FLEX From Jersey (@FlexFromJersey) September 25, 2022
From my understanding the Suns gave Jae Crowder and his representation permission to seek a trade.— John Gambadoro (@Gambo987) September 25, 2022
Today, after all this news broke, Crowder opened up even further on twitter.
“One must seek work where he is wanted,” Crowder began, in his usual all-caps method.
ONE MUST SEEK WORK WHERE HE IS WANTED.. WHERE HE IS NEEDED.! I AM THANKFUL FOR WHAT THESE PAST 2 YRS HAVE TAUGHT ME.! NOW I MUST TAKE ON ANOTHER CHALLENGE WITH CONTINUED HARDWORK & DEDICATION.! FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO CLOSED THE DOOR ON ME…. THANK YOU! 99 BACK SOON.!— JAE CROWDER (@CJC9BOSS) September 25, 2022
Why does Jae Crowder suddenly want to be traded?
Crowder has been a two-year starter for the Suns during a period where they led the league in regular season wins and had the second-most playoff wins. His $10 million average salary has been a great value, considering his quiet contributions to winning. He’s always been a great team guy, part of the ‘family’.
On the plus side, Crowder has been some of the glue that kept the team’s Top-5 ranked defense together while also, as the de facto power forward despite being only 6’6” and 220 pounds, pulling the other team’s second-biggest player out of the paint by moving around almost exclusively along the perimeter for catch-and-shoot three-point bombs. Crowder’s spacing on offense on heady play on defense has been a huge boon for the Suns as they grew into a title contender.
His play declined a bit in 2021-22 though. On offense, he made only 34% of his threes during the season on his fewest attempts per game in half a decade and made fewer than 33% of his threes in 9 of 13 playoff games. On defense, he became a foul-merchant in the 2022 playoffs, getting into significant foul trouble (4 or more) in 8 of the Suns 13 games.
In that final two games of the season, a combined 60 points in losses to the underdog Dallas Mavericks after taking a 3-2 series lead, Crowder was bad too. Just like his teammates.
In Game 6, he committed 5 fouls in only 28 minutes of play, and scored just 9 points as a non-factor. Game 7 was even worse: 5 points on 2-9 shooting, including 1-6 on threes in 27 minutes.
Now this trade demand.
The 32-year old Crowder enters a contract year as his 3-year, $30 million contract is set to expire next summer. Could he have asked for an extension and been denied in some dramatic fashion?
He’s getting older and probably wants from guaranteed money in the coming years as soon as possible, but the Suns already have Cameron Johnson waiting in the wings and worth probably twice what Crowder is worth these days.
This could very well be simply a contract squabble, but it’s disheartening to see it play out like Eric Bledsoe’s contract dispute all those years ago.
It’s also possible he could be reacting negatively to the constant trade rumors this summer? (this one I doubt, since Crowder’s been on 7 teams in 10 years, and hasn’t always been a starter)
Or could something fundamental have happened in that last playoff round that impacted Crowder’s commitment to the team? This one I’m probably overthinking, but it’s entered my mind.
The most likely scenario is that Crowder wants job security beyond this season, and the Suns don’t want to make that commitment. Hence the impasse.
I guess we’ll know more on Monday. Or not, lol.
Suns annual Media Day starts about 9:00am tomorrow. This year I’ll be joined by Damon Allred, John Voita, Trevor Booth and maybe even Brandon/Zona if he can get away.