Last November, guard Jamal Crawford was elated about being traded to the Warriors. He was back on the West Coast, he was playing in a fun offensive system, and he was on a team with promise.
Seven months later, Crawford is again elated, this time about leaving the Warriors.
"I was excited when I came," Crawford said when reached by phone Wednesday. "But towards the end of the season, that had faded. It became too uncomfortable with too much uncertainty."
Team sources confirmed Golden State agreed to trade Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks for point guards Speedy Claxton and Acie Law. The deal can't go through the league office until July 1.
The trade won't affect what Golden State will do in today's draft, as neither Claxton nor Law is what the Warriors were looking for in their quest for a point guard, according to team sources. This move does, however, save the Warriors some $12 million in salary cap space over the next two years.
First, they get rid of Crawford's deal, which had two years and more than $19 million remaining. Claxton is set to make $5.2 million next season, the final year of his contract. Because of injury, he played two games last season, not including one postseason appearance. He missed the entire 2007-08 season, and 51 games of the 2006-07 season.
If he doesn't return to action this season, insurance would cover some 80 percent of his salary.
Law, a second-year guard, has one year left for $2.2
Team sources said neither of the pending acquisitions is the answer to the Warriors' hole at point guard. So Golden State still could draft a point guard today if one they want is available. With that said, many expect the Warriors to draft Arizona power forward Jordan Hill, as he's presumed to be the player highest on the wish list when they select at No. 7.
General manager Larry Riley said Monday he expects two of the four point guards they would consider taking to go in the first six picks. He said there was only one other power forward they would take, but drafting him at seven would be a reach. The Warriors aren't in the market for a center or a swingman, as they are crammed tight at both positions.
The logjam is one player lighter, however, assuming neither Claxton nor Law makes it into the regular rotation. Crawford, who split time at both guard positions, was expected to move after coach Don Nelson told Crawford to opt out or be traded.
"I didn't want to talk about the ultimatum in the season," Crawford said, "But I was shocked. I drove around for two hours after that meeting just in shock. I basically saw the writing was on the wall, that my future wasn't with the Warriors. It's weird. With me first coming, Coach said he wanted me to end my career here and that I was a godsend. Then he was saying he wanted me to be more aggressive and play my game. Then a week later, that happened. I was shocked."
Crawford's ability to opt out, which expires on July 1, reportedly gave Hawks coach Mike Woodson reason for pause. But Crawford, who read about Woodson's reservations, said he wouldn't opt out, citing the rough economic times (which has several teams cutting back, therefore limiting his chances of getting similar money elsewhere). To appease the Hawks' concerns, Crawford said he will sign an agreement stating he won't opt out.
"If this was last year or the year before," Crawford said, "I think I would've (opted out)."
Also, his excitement about going to the Hawks will prevent him from opting out, he said. Atlanta represents the best chance he's ever had at making the playoffs, and he thinks he and guard Joe Johnson would make a great tandem.
Crawford, acquired from the New York Knicks last November, expected the same with he and Warriors guard Monta Ellis.
Crawford said he's disappointed things didn't work out, as he liked his teammates and the fans. But he is happy to get out of the Warriors' situation, which had him coming off the bench and playing for a coach who didn't want him.
"I like my teammates and the area for sure, but it was just a weird situation," said Crawford, whose 11-year-old son lives in Atlanta. "This experience was like nothing I've experienced before. I can't cry over it. This is the profession I chose. But this helps me see that anything is possible.
"Did I do any one thing to deserve this? No. If being professional and doing what's asked is a bad thing, I guess I'm guilty."
Contact Marcus Thompson II at email@example.com.