Jordan Crawford had said Saturday that he “couldn’t recall” playing for his former team, the Washington Wizards, but he didn’t wait long to make an impression Sunday in his first game against the club that traded him to the Celtics in February.
After Crawford entered Boston’s 107-96 win at the start of the second quarter, he hit his first shot, a turnaround jumper in traffic in the lane, to put the Celtics up by 3.
On Boston’s next possession, Crawford hit a long pull-up jumper in transition. He then made a steal, and received plenty of applause from the Garden crowd.
Crawford finished with 6 points, 2 steals, and 2 assists in 16 minutes.
“He was great in the first half,” coach Doc Rivers said. “In the second half, I thought he wanted it a little too much, but I thought for a kid that clearly wanted to beat this team like any other kid does when you play, I thought his composure was terrific.”
The day before, Crawford was asked about playing his former team and answered, “I don’t recall playing for Washington,” a line he later repeated.
Crawford’s stint in D.C. had a sour end, to put it mildly.
When Crawford was traded to Boston for the expiring contracts of Leandro Barbosa and Jason Collins, Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld said, “Jordan did not fit into our current plans . . . or our future plans.”
Before Sunday’s game, Wizards coach Randy Wittman was asked what went wrong with Crawford in Washington.
Wittman said it wasn’t so much what went wrong as it was the team was headed in a different direction and wanted to give rookie guard Bradley Beal a chance to develop, which meant reduced playing time for Crawford.
When asked about Crawford’s remark that he didn’t recall playing for the Wizards, Wittman said, “I’m not going to get in a war of words here, guys.”
Crawford averaged 14.5 points in 133 games over three seasons with the Wizards.
“His role is totally different on this side,” said Wizards guard John Wall, who scored 16 points on 8-of-20 shooting and had 10 assists.
Time well spent
Unlike Crawford, Collins has fond memories of his former team, the Celtics.
“What an honor it was to play for a great organization that has so much history and a great group of guys in that locker room, and the leadership from Doc and [Kevin Garnett] and Paul [Pierce],” Collins said before the game. “Nothing but good memories.”
Initially, the Celtics wanted to trade center Chris Wilcox to Washington instead of Collins, but Wilcox utilized a clause in the collective bargaining agreement to veto the deal.
Collins said being traded was “one of the biggest tests of my professionalism in my career as far as what I was expecting this season.”
At the time of the trade, Rivers lamented losing Collins, but Collins said he had no hard feelings.
“I understand, they understand, everybody understands that with the injuries they had, they had to get another scorer,” Collins said. “And Jordan Crawford is definitely capable of doing that. It’s part of the business.”
When asked if he considered a buyout of his contract so that he could return to the Celtics after the trade was made, Collins said, “I won’t comment on that.”
Collins averaged 1.2 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 10.3 minutes in 32 games for the Celtics, but Rivers said his impact extended beyond the stat sheet.
“He’s literally one of the best guys I’ve ever had in the locker room, player or coach,” Rivers said. “He’s just good. He’s a good guy and what he says is the truth. He’s honest and he’s honest with the coaching staff with what he sees and he’s honest with players. A player will complain about something, he’ll tell him the truth. And a lot of guys won’t want to hear the truth.”
Collins’s contract is up at the end of this season. What’s next for him?
“I’m going to prepare to play another year,” he said. “I still feel that I can offer a team, whether it be experience or six fouls, I can still go out there and make a plays and help a team win.”
Collins said he’d “definitely” be interested in returning to the Celtics, adding with a laugh that if he does, “I might put a no-trade clause [in my contract].”
Rivers said he would “love” to have Collins as a member of the Celtics again.
Pierce seeing Red
Before the game, Pierce was presented with the Red Auerbach Award, given to the player or coach who best exemplifies the spirit of what it means to be a Celtic, on and off the court. Pierce also won the award in 2006.
Garnett is the only other Celtic to win it twice, having earned it in 2008 and 2012.
The award, presented each year since the 2005-06 season, is named after the legendary Celtics coach, general manager, and president, who died in 2006.
“With Red’s name on it, I was able to receive the first one, [and] for me to get another one is a true honor,” Pierce said.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @BaxterHolmes.