PHOENIX SUNS

Jae Crowder says Suns blindsided him, pushed him out

Jan 13, 2023, 10:08 AM | Updated: 12:27 pm

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams, right, goes out to talk with Suns forward Jae Crowder, left...

Phoenix Suns head coach Monty Williams, right, goes out to talk with Suns forward Jae Crowder, left, who smiles after scoring against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of Game 1 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Forward Jae Crowder in a text message to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes gave more insight into the reasons why he remains in NBA exile as a member of the Phoenix Suns but awaiting a potential trade that will move him to a new team.

“I’ve spoken to every player that I’ve played with on that team and they all have stressed how much they miss [me] and respect my decision, and I’m thankful for their understanding,” Crowder told Haynes with a text message. “This move of pushing me out the door was a blindsided hit to not only me but my teammates, as you can see from speaking to them and myself and the conversations we’ve had behind closed doors.

“I will continue to prepare myself daily for battle once the call is made and continue to be a leader on the court, locker room, as well as off the court. I am thankful my teammates appreciated my leadership. I’m confused and hurt my coaches didn’t appreciate the things I brought to our team and organization. And this has nothing to do with financial or contract differences.”

Crowder told Haynes in October that the Suns’ decision to move Cam Johnson into the starting lineup was not a reason he parted ways with the team.

The forward said that his expiring contract — and lack of an extension — that will pay out $10.2 million was not part of any disagreements with the franchise. That is a new revelation.

Phoenix has reportedly maintained it will trade Crowder for an impactful return piece that can help this year’s team.

Crowder averaged 9.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in 2021-22.

He started 111 of 127 games in two years with Phoenix, helping the team reach the 2021 NBA Finals and then being part of a franchise-record 64 wins last regular season.

Haynes’ story published on Friday included comments from Suns wing Mikal Bridges, who said he still speaks with Crowder and wishes he was still on the team.

“That’s one of our leaders,” Bridges told Haynes. “I texted him not too long ago and told him how much I miss him. That’s my guy. It’s the NBA. It happens.

“I know he wants to be here, but it’s the league. That’s just how it is sometimes. This is my fifth year in the league, and I understand how it could be. You’ve got to protect yourself sometimes. We’d love to have him here, but we get it.”

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