Restricted free agent Jae Crowder hopes to return to the Boston Celtics next season but wants to get paid also, so he will test the "open market."
Crowder, who is currently rehabbing his knee which he injured in the playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, was tendered a qualifying offer of $1.2 million by the Celtics after the season -- giving Boston the ability to match any offer that he receives. Crowder told the Boston Heraldrecently that he wants to return to the team and senses that the Celtics also want him back.
"Of course you want to find out what your value might be. Time will tell that. I'm talking to my people and others, and everything will eventually show. My worth will be revealed. But I'm confident in myself and my team.""Free agency is approaching quickly, and I'm sure I'll be talking to Danny (Ainge) soon," he said. "As I've told you guys, the second half of the season was something special to be a part of. I saw it as something that was going in the right direction for me."
"The feeling of me coming back to Boston is mutual, from what I can tell. I just hope we can get something done. But I do get a good feeling from the team."
It seems that the Celtics do indeed want Crowder to return as Celtics president Rich Gotham reportedly said that re-signing Crowder was a priority and Ainge, the team's president of basketball operations, was very complimentary of Crowder at his end-of-season press conference according to New England Sports Network (NESN).
"I think Jae was particularly good in the playoffs. He played well. He played with great energy and provided a lot of spark. He clearly was our best defender on LeBron (James) in the series. But I don't know if he exceeded expectations. I think Jae is a player that was improving with the opportunity that he got to play for us. And I think he's got a lot of upside still. I think he can still get better over the next few years. But we're excited about Jae, and we're excited about what he brings to our team, and his versatility, and his defensive ability to play a few different positions. We think he has a very bright future."Crowder was terrific for Boston after he came over from Dallas. He appeared in 57 games, making 17 starts for the Celtics and averaged 9.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 24.3 minutes of action. Crowder shot only 41.8 percent from the field as he only made 28.2 percent of his three-point attempts. According to Basketball-reference, the 24-year old produced an offensive rating of 108 -- third on the team among players that appeared in at least 50 games -- and a defensive rating of 104.
Crowder stepped up his game in the playoffs. He averaged 10.8 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 51.7 percent from field. Crowder's playoff offensive rating of 120 was a team-high and his defensive rating of 109 was also a team-best.
Analysis:Crowder will likely be the only one of Boston's four free agents to return to the team -- Brandon Bass, Jonas Jerebko and Luigi Datome are the team's other free agents -- as the Celtics currently have 11 players under contract for next year, four draft picks in the upcoming draft and a bunch of salary cap space. The Celtics are expected to be very active this offseason and have been rumored as suitors for DeMarcus Cousins,Ty Lawson, Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe and DeAndre Jordan, etc.
Crowder is a high-energy athletic forward who can guard multiple positions -- shooting guard, small forward and power forward. The thing that makes Crowder so valuable is that he is comfortable playing limited minutes,which he will likely do if he sticks with the C's, but is also capable of jumping into a starting role as he did this year.
[photo by Maddie Meyer/ Getty Images]