Atlanta Hawks guard and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford had little to say about this upcoming season and the possibility of playing out the final year of his contract in Atlanta when interviewed by the Globe this weekend from his summer basketball tournament in Seattle.
Crawford, whose scoring skills helped the Hawks beat the Celtics four times last season and reach the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, is entering the final year of a seven-year, $55.4 million deal he signed with the Knicks in 2004. (Crawford is pictured right defending Ray Allen).
According to sources, Crawford's agent, Aaron Goodwin, will meet with Hawks general manager Rick Sund this week to discuss Crawford's future in Atlanta. With the Hawks having signed Joe Johnson to a maximum deal in July, Crawford is the lone core Hawks player not signed beyond this season.
With the uncertainty of a potential new collective bargaining agreement, Crawford appears to be seeking the security of a long-term contract and wants the Hawks to act. But he wouldn't comment on even playing for the Hawks in 2010-11.
"I don't want to talk about next season," he said.
Crawford, 30, did address last season and how much he enjoyed his first season in Atlanta. He made the first playoff appearance of his 10-year NBA career.
"That was a lot fun," he said. "I was a little nervous to go out there at first but once I got the hang of it, I said, 'Oh it's still basketball, just more white towels going in the stands, more energy.' I had fun going through it."
Crawford averaged 18 points, 3 assists and 2.5 rebounds in 79 games off the bench for the Hawks. In four games against Boston, he burned the Celtics for 20 points, 4 assists and 46 percent shooting.
"It make me feel really good because I feel like you never get your just due until you are on a winning team," he said. "That's what happened this year. That was a lot of fun because I understood I was going to be a sixth man coming to a good team but I sacrificed whatever it took. I wanted to win above everything else."
While Crawford refused to address the possibility of playing for Atlanta next season, he expressed his satisfaction with the team's success and chemistry last season.
"I think we're probably the second-loosest team to Cleveland and guys supported each other," he said. "Guys pulled for each other and it was just about winning and that's why we had such a great season."
The season didn't end on such a great note, with a four games to none elimination at the hands of the Orlando Magic and the eventual dismissal of coach Mike Woodson, whose contract was not renewed.
"I feel like he improved the team every year he was there," Crawford said of Woodson. "And unfortunately when you lose the way we did, something is going to happen. You don't know if it's going to be a player being traded or coach being fired. But I had no problem with him at all. You know we got along great. And he put the ball in my hands a lot last year. But I feel like coach (Larry) Drew would do a good job as well."
Whether Crawford plays under Drew remains to be seen. When asked if he was prepared to potentially leave Atlanta for a fifth NBA team, he said, "All I wanted to do growing up is be in the NBA. If I am in the NBA, I am fine. I feel like I have a lot of basketball left. I can play at a high level for a long time. The best is yet to come for me."