EMPIRE OF THE SUNS

Jamal Crawford brings vet voice, play-making and — yes — scoring to Suns

Oct 15, 2018, 4:31 PM | Updated: Oct 16, 2018, 6:01 pm

Jamal Crawford, of the Minnesota Timberwolves, poses in the press room with the Twyman–Stokes tea...

Jamal Crawford, of the Minnesota Timberwolves, poses in the press room with the Twyman–Stokes teammate of the year award at the NBA Awards on Monday, June 25, 2018, at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

(Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

PHOENIX — The Suns don’t expect a honeymoon period upon adding veteran Jamal Crawford to their team just days before their 2018-19 season opener.

They know what he is and what he brings.

He’s brought the same to seven NBA teams, for 18 head coaches and for the past 18 years.

The combo guard may not fit the stereotype of a point guard, the position still raising red flags for this Phoenix team. But Crawford still has legendary handles, holds a highly-respected status as a person and player amongst his peers — and yeah, the dude can still get buckets at 38 years old.

“We know what he’s bringing to the table. It’s no secret. We don’t bring him in to find out what he can do,” head coach Igor Kokoskov said Monday of the reported addition, interim GM James Jones’ first big move after taking over for the fired Ryan McDonough.

“We know his ability to score, that he’s (an) instant-offense guy. But also another veteran (leader), somebody with experience playing with — as we know — a lot of different teams, a lot of different situations, a lot of different coaches. I think that time for him to adjust and to adapt into a new system is going to be quick.”

Kokoskov didn’t know Monday whether Crawford, who is expected to officially sign Tuesday, would be ready to play Wednesday in the season opener at home against the Dallas Mavericks. The head coach did say Crawford will play if it will help the Suns win.

Coming off his lowest-scoring season since his second year in the NBA, Crawford joins fellow 30-somethings Tyson Chandler (36), Trevor Ariza (33) and Ryan Anderson (30) as the oldest members on Phoenix’s roster.

Crawford, who was not available to the media Monday because he’d yet to sign, told the Seattle Times this summer that his decision to opt out of a $4.5 million player option with Minnesota was about fit.

“Last year, I may have made the mistake of not thinking fit all the way through,” he told the paper.

“You look at my career, when the fit was right, I contributed on the court. … I know people that care for me want me to win (an NBA title), but I don’t know if my career will be defined by that.”

Crawford is a career 41 percent shooter who last season in 21 minutes per game got off more than nine shot attempts a night.

But while his scoring prowess is well-understood, the Suns will hope he can also open up shots for others in Kokoskov’s read-and-react offense.

“Unbelievable person, definitely somebody that can help us improve, help the guards that we have learn to play the game at the NBA level,” Anderson said. “You can never have enough scoring. He can make plays as well. He’s a smart, smart guard.”

Phoenix hopes Crawford can impart those guard skills after the preseason displayed moments of immaturity from the four point guards vying for playing time.

The Suns ultimately decided an upgrade was needed.

They opted to sign Crawford and waived defense-first point guard Shaq Harrison on Monday.

Crawford, Anderson said, could give a few lessons to the remaining players: Isaiah Canaan and rookies Elie Okobo and De’Anthony Melton, not to mention shooting guard Devin Booker, who will take on more play-making duties in the Suns’ offense.

“Adding another guy that is respected is just going to be huge, especially a guard player,” Anderson added. “Another respected guard that knows timing, knows spacing, can score the ball well.

“The speed is different (compared to the college game). It’s more of a quickness rather than just playing fast. Jamal brings that. That’s what, you know, is his bread-and-butter — his ability to score and use his quickness, his ability to shoot the ball and score. He’s just going to help these guys tremendously.”

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Jamal Crawford brings vet voice, play-making and — yes — scoring to Suns