A lot of things had to come together for the Miami Heat to make their run to the NBA Finals back in 2020. The league stoppage that occurred amid the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic giving Erik Spoelstra time to tinker and plot the team’s course certainly played a role.
Before that, the mega-trade bringing Jimmy Butler to South Beach, Bam Adebayo’s emergence as an All-Star and Tyler Herro’s show-out rookie effort had laid the groundwork for the surprise success.
However, Jae Crowder’s contributions as a trade-deadline addition cannot be overlooked in the equation. And the Heat are apparently keen on recapturing some of that magic, as they have been linked to Crowder time and time again since the baller and the Phoenix Suns agreed to an eventual parting of ways during training camp.
That said, there may be some things working against the 32-year-old’s viability as a trade target. At the least, there appears to be one big concern among some of the teams that have been pursuing him.
Insider: Teams Weighing Jae Crowder Trade Starting to Worry About His Inactivity
While the Suns kinda, sorta acquiesced to Crowder’s desire to play elsewhere in the fall, they were under no obligation to deal him in a timely fashion or to a team of his choice. And in an effort to secure the best outcome possible for themselves, they have continued to hang onto Crowder, despite the trade interest around the league.
That plan of attack may end up costing them — and Crowder — in the end, though.
According to longtime league insider Marc Stein, teams are starting to wonder whether Crowder will even be able to contribute after being sidelined for so long.
Specifically, GMs are questioning the “state of his conditioning” and the amount of time it could take for him “acclimatize to a team,” Stein says. And considering Crowder never reported to Suns camp, and his last game for the club was in May of last year, those concerns are from unfounded.
If he can come back at a level close to the one he left with, though, he’ll be a useful hand for a contending squad. Over 67 appearances for the Suns last season, Crowder averaged 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Meanwhile, he’s a career 35% shooter from deep.
Earlier this month, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that both the Heat and the Milwaukee Bucks were monitoring the Crowder situation.
B/R Picks Jimmy Butler for All-Star Game
Due to the Heat’s ho-hum record and the fact that he’s missed 14 games this season, one could make the argument that Jimmy Butler shouldn’t be making an appearance in this year’s NBA All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. For his part, though, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes has made the case that he should still be voted in by East coaches.
Although he isn’t a three-point threat until it’s do-or-die time in the playoffs, Butler is on pace to shoot over 50 percent from the field for the first time in his career. At 33, Butler has mastered the art of playing the game on his terms. Defenses can’t ignore him on the perimeter since he’ll use that space to cut, duck into the post or dribble into a range where he’s more dangerous. An ace foul-drawer who has literally won games with his pump-fake acumen, Butler also remains one of the most complete defensive wings around.
Butler’s per-game averages of 22.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 2.0 steals are unmatched this season.