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SHAMS: NETS TO SIGN JAMAL CRAWFORD AS SUBSTITUTE

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New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

In the first bit of good news in the last few weeks, Shams Charania reports that Jamal Crawford, the three-time Sixth Man of the Year, has signed with the Nets, the first of four substitute players the Nets are entitled to sign in preparation for the Orlando “bubble.”

ESPN’s Malika Andrews, reporting from Orlando, confirmed the report.

Crawford, 40, had not played at all this season, but it was expected that with so many roster openings due to opt-outs, positive tests for the coronavirus and injuries that he might get a chance.

It would appear that Crawford had been anticipating his return. Over the weekend, he posted a video of him shooting around at home...

Crawford responded to the news this way early Thursday...

In an interview with Sports Techie published Monday, JCrossover said he was “absolutely” in good shape and ready to help an NBA team.

“Part of it is to get back, and part of it is just who I am,” he told Joe Lemire. “I play basketball every single day of my life and work out, so if the NBA doesn’t happen this season, I’ll still be in shape because I just love the game. I don’t do it for that. I’ve always done it for me.”

It’s uncertain when Crawford will join the Nets who arrived in Orlando and Tuesday night. Once there, he will have to undergo testing and several days of quarantine. The Nets open “seeding” on July 31.

The Nets have four openings due to a series of events over the past week. Wilson Chandler opted out of the “bubble.” Then, in rapid fire, Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan and Taurean Prince all tested positive for the coronavirus. Jordan immediately opted out and after a second positive test, Dinwiddie agreed he would not head to Orlando. Prince was also declared out.

Justin Anderson, who has agreed to sign with the Nets, has yet to actually put pen to paper but that’s expected to be a mere formality ... assuming nothing else happens.

Crawford has to be in the discussion of who’s the NBA’s all-time great sixth men, along with Lou Williams, Manu Ginobili and John Havilchek. Although he never won a ring unlike the latter two, his longevity and production have been extraordinary over what will now be a 20-year career.

In those 20 years, the eighth longest career in NBA history, Crawford has started only 433 of the 1,326 games he’s appeared in and won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2010, 2014 and 2016. Over the course of his career, Crawford has averaged 14.6 points, 3.6 assists and 2.4 rebounds. He is one of only three NBA players in history (along with Dell Curry and Lou Williams) to score more than 10,000 points off the bench. He also ranks eighth all-time in made 3-pointers.

He has scored 50 or more points for four different teams, three times on the road, including in his last game of the 2018-19 season, his last time on an NBA court. Playing for the Suns, he exploded for 51 points on just 30 field goal attempts, becoming the oldest player in league history to score 50 or more points.

Despite that, Crawford did not get a guaranteed offer last summer. There were reports, even after his big last game that the 6’5” Crawford had lost a step and was a defensive liability, but for a Nets team in need of a quick fix, those concerns would have to be secondary.

Crawford will also be returning to New York where he played some of his best basketball for the Knicks, playing four and a half seasons at Madison Square Garden. He averaged a career high 20.6 ppg for New York in 2007-08 along with five assists.

Sean Marks pursued Crawford in the summer of 2016 according to reports at the time. With his signing and that of Tyler Johnson, the Nets have now signed two of his first free agent targets.

Under the NBA/NBPA protocols governing signings, Crawford will be paid a pro-rated portion of the vets minimum, in his case around $300,000 which not affect the salary cap. He will be an unrestricted free agent this October.

Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson reports that Crawford, who’s worn 11 most of his career, will don No. 1. Theo Pinson, now with the Knicks, wore it last.