There is no denying that Jae Crowder has been struggling to fit with the Cleveland Cavaliers. From being one of the NBA’s top defenders last season with the Boston Celtics, he ended up becoming a bench player for the third-worst defensive team in the league at the moment.
Crowder’s current stats are a proof of his huge drop in form. From career-high numbers in rebounds (5.8), assists (2.2), minutes played (32.4), field goal shooting percentage (46.3), and three-point shooting percentage (39.8) last season, they all went down to 3.3 boards and 1.1 assists in only 25.4 minutes per game, sinking 41.6 percent from inside the arc and 32.2 percent from beyond. He had also dropped his scoring average from 13.9 points per game in Boston to a measly 8.6 a night in 48 games so far in Cleveland.
With Isaiah Thomas, Ante Zizic, and the 2018 unprotected first-rounder from Brooklyn, Crowder was part of that package Boston sent to the Cavaliers during the Kyrie Irving trade last summer. Fans were hoping that he would be the above average wing defender Cleveland has been waiting for to play alongside LeBron James to help him stop the Golden State Warriors’ perimeter game.
Crowder did play with James in the Cavs’ starting lineup for most of this season, but the outcome, especially on the defensive end where expectations are high, was much less to be desired. Crowder’s current 111.5 defensive rating is the worst in his six-year career, as per Jason Lloyd of The Athletic.
Head coach Tyronn Lue was then forced to make lineup changes and he relegated Crowder to the bench in favor of big man Tristan Thompson. It resulted in two straight wins for the Cavs, which supposedly increased further the perception that Crowder is an ill-fit with the team.
With that, some NBA analysts reportedly believe that Crowder is now on the trade block and could be shipped out of Cleveland before the February 8 deadline.
Seasoned basketball analyst David Aldridge, via the NBA’s official website, recently suggested a deal that would send Crowder and Channing Frye to the Utah Jazz in exchange for Derrick Favors.
Aldridge said Crowder’s struggles might be the result of him still “grieving the loss of his mother” last summer or just a simple case of incompatibility with LeBron, but that he could return to his old form by moving him to a new environment.
Meanwhile, the Cavs could use Favors as a go-to guy off the bench, providing “low-post pop to compliment Kyle Korver and Jeff Green,” Aldridge noted.
Favors is in the final year of his four-year, $47 million deal with the Jazz. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, which could also benefit the Cavs if they need to clear salary cap space this summer.