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From Jamal’s Craw

Got my first chance to talk to the newest Warriors, guard Jamal Crawford. Watching him in his first practice, I am going to go out on a limb and say he’s pretty good. Most important, he is in control. You know how when many of the Warriors are dribbling, you feel like a turnover is about to happen? How many times have you been watching the game and involuntarily applied the white-knuckle death grip to the arm of the chair while one of the Warriors precariously led a fast break?
You’re not going to get that feeling with Crawford. In that short 30-minute stint I saw, he was composed and fluid with his ball-handling and pace. It really stood out, too.
Anyway, after practice, his new, thick binder of plays by his side, Crawford sat down to chat.

What was your reaction to the news of the trade?
I was surprised because my name wasn’t out there at all. When I heard he news I was shocked. But after that, I was excited.

So you happy to be back on the West Coast?
Personally, yes. Not just being on the West Coast, but the way we play. I’ve been a fan for a while, watching all the games. … So I’m excited.

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What was New York like with all that drama?
It was tough. It was tough. We went through a lot. It was a lot more off the court than anything. It seemed like it was always something, so it was hard to focus on just trying to win, which is the bottom line.

How do you think you and Monta will work out?
I think we can play together. I don’t think we’ll have a problem at all. Both of us like to play off the ball and on the ball. When you have two players in the backcourt that want to do that, you won’t have problems.

What’s the Warriors reputation from the outside looking in?
Fun. Definitely fun to watch. Even when you guys were in the playoffs that year, I wanted to come down, it seemed so exciting. I think the fans, they make it like a college atmosphere. They make it really, really fun. It makes it almost like you’re in summer league in high school. You know, it’s just a lot of fun out there playing.

What is the learning curve for you?
I’ve got the big playbook so far. I’ll learn some things. For the most part, pretty simple to start, pretty basic. But I’ll pick it up as time goes on.

When was the last time you’ve had freedom on the court?
Maybe Chicago. Honestly, I talked to my high school coach this morning, I haven’t had this type of feeling since then. Us players just go have fun, the ball’s going to be in your hands a lot, get everybody set. Get guys involved so they’re oiut there having fun, they’re playing hard. We’ll have fun together.

I had a lot of different coaches. Everyone of them was different – from Lenny Wilkens to Larry Brown to Isiah to coach D’Antoni. Coach D’Antoni’s system is similar to this one. This one I think is even a little bit easier to pick up. So it help I just played in that system, for sure.

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How does it feel to be wanted?
It feels so good. It feels so good. Honestly, I think this system fits me better than any system in the league. Coming here with coach Nelson, a Hall of Fame coach … it’s re-energizing. I’m excited.

You know any of these guys?
I knew Stephen Jackson. I knew Corey Maggette and Ronny over the years. Everybody seems really friendly and they welcomed me with open arms.

Jax is happy you’re here, huh?
Yeah, you should ask him about that. (smile) He’s pretty happy.

Would you say you’re better as a point guard or a shooting guard?
Honestly, it’s weird because I’ve always (played point guard). In high school I played point guard. Coming into the NBA I was a point guard. So I’ve always been a point guard who can score. But once you get big-number scoring games, they’re like “He’s a scorer” and they put you in that box. But like I told coach Nelson, I think he’ll be more surprised than anything at my passing. Coach D’Antoni when he came he thought I’d be averaging 25 points a game. After he got with me, he was like, ‘You’re a better passer than anything.’ So I have no problem getting those guys the ball and scoring when I need to.

You feel like an old veteran around all these young guys?
I do, but I feel young as well. I’m in my ninth year, but I’m just 28. I came in a 19 years old. So it’s refreshing to be around these guys.

What ties to the Bay Area do you have?
I have some family here. It’s only an hour-and-a-half, an hour-and-45-minute flight from Seattle. And I have a lot of family in Los Angeles so they’ll all be out supporting. … Now I’m on the West Coast. It’s hard because on the East, people are still at work. Now they get a chance to see me.

What are your feelings about coming to a franchise that is rebuilding?>
That’s fine. I’m excited. It’s a new challenge. I think when you do that, there’s no expectations. You can go out and watch the young guys grow and get better. I think we hae some great young talent, especially playing with those guys today. Morrow is a great shooter. You can’t give that guy any space. You got Goose. You’ve got Monta when he gets healthy. There are so many young guys. Brandan Wright. Anthony Randolph. All these guys are getting better. Hopefully we can kind of be the ones to show them the way.

What’s up with No. 6?
I wore 23 in high school. Two times three is six. I just wanted a fresh start. I wore No. 1 in Chicago. I wore No. 11 in New York. I just wanted a fresh start, a different look, a different feel. … When I was in New York ( I wore 11 for) Isiah Thomas because he was so instrumental in bringing me there.

So shouldn’t you wear No. 19 to pay homage to Nellie?
I think I’m so skinny, I look better in single digits.

How would you assess yourself defensively?
Defensively, I think I’m better on the ball defensively. Weakside, sometimes I have a tendency to kind of watch. I personally don’t want my man to score, but you’ve got to be a better help defender. I feel like I can keep growing in that area and keep growing in my overall game. I only played two years of high school, a half of year of college and now this is my 10th or 11th coach in nine years. So there’s been a lot of change. But I’ll get better at it.

You comfortable guarding bigger guards?
Yeah, because I played the two. When I played with Steph I played the two and with Duhon I played the two, so that’s not a problem. So that’s why I think with Monta, when he comes back, he can guard the point guard and I can guard the two and on offense we can switch up.

You might ending guarding threes here, too …
That’s fine, because we played Nate, Duhon and myself together a lot.

You might have to guard fours …
That’s fine. They’ve got to guard me, too. I saw Corey doing that last night. … In New York, myself, Nate, Duhon and Wilson Chandler started at power forward and he’s really probably a natural three. So (D’Antoni’s system) is very, very similar.

What do you think Oracle Arena will be like?
That Monday against the Heat? Hopefully we can get some wins on this trip and get the fans excited and hopefully they’ll want to come out and support us.

What about Saturday’s game?
New York? I haven’t thought about that one. I want to get Washington, then go to Boston, do one at a time.

Isn’t it amazing how the trade and the scheduling worked out?
I know. (We play them) that fast. Unbelievable. It really is. … Everything happens for a reason. I think this is a huge opportunity for myself and I’m just really excited.

Does all the drama hurt a team on the court?
It does. It really does. We did a better job later blocking it out. This year, there was some stuff with Steph going on. But besides that, it was a pretty drama free year. We got off to the best start in 10 years for the Knicks. So it was surprising, like I said, with this trade but … It’s weird because like, Brandon Roy is one of my best friends. He just played you guys two weeks ago and he was like, ‘I love it down there.’ Then when the trade went through, I think he was more excited than any of us. I talk to him everyday. He was like, ‘Mal, you’re going to love it there. They gone love you. It’s a perfect fit.’ We talked before the season about if I ever got traded or if I ever re-signed with somebody, this was the place. SO it’s weird. I’m just happy. I’m very happy. It’s close to home. It’s perfect.

Looking to rack up the assists passing to Morrow?
Yeah, he’s a scorer. I know exactly where to put it for him. I was watching last night. Teams are really starting to key on him a little bit, but he’ll find ways to get going.

Part of that is getting him shots, right?
I’m not really worried about scoring. I’ve been known for that my whole career anyway. That’s always the last resort. I want to make sure these guys get the ball feeling good about themselves. My thought is to get those guys going first and then scoring, I’ll take the opportunities. But I want to set the table for those guys.

This team has struggled in the fourth quarter, but you have a reputation for being clutch. You looking forward to coming up big down the stretch for this team?
I love it. In the fourth quarter, my focus really goes up. I could be 0-for-10 through the first three then go 5-for-5 in the fourth when the game is on the line. In New York, if you can do it there with those fans and stuff going on, I think my fans here will help me out a lot.

You had a couple years ago where you hit a bunch of game-winners. What was that like?
I hit four in one year. The year before I had two. Last year, total I had seven that was actually considered game-winners, but there were a lot more with like 10 seconds left or so. That’s a great rush.

Is there pressure kind of replacing Baron?
He’s a friend of mine. I grew up with him in LA. So I know Baron pretty well. I think we’re different in some ways, but some things are the same. I think we’re both pretty exciting. I think he’s a team – I know he’s a team-first guy and I want to put my team first, for sure. It’s hard because all the stuff that happened in New York, if you’re still there, it’s like, ‘Oh, you’re just part of that whole losing regime.” I think we had some good players, we just didn’t jell and it just didn’t work out. But that tag is always on you. So I want to shake that tag. It’s a new start.

If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere, right?
It’s hard, though. There, if you’re not beating a team that they think you should be beating, and it’s a tie score, they’ll boo. During timeouts, people are shooting for trips to Hawaii or whatever. If they miss the wrong way, they’ll boo them, too. It’a tough, so it will be a welcomed change. But I had a good time.

Marcus Thompson

  • JustPuked

    Great post, thanks for sharing Marcus. I can’t wait to see what Crawford looks like in a game. It will be fantastic just getting the ball out of JAX’s hands so SJ can let things come to him instead of forcing it trying to be a playmaker. With the ball in Craw’s hands, JAX and Morrow available for the drive and kick, the Warriors should be able to handle end game situations a lot better as well. I don’t have any expectations on his defense but hopefully he’ll be an upgrade on Watson. Again, thanks for the great post, there’s nothing like hearing directly from the players.

  • Dave

    Can he make an inbound pass without an adventure too? Anyone who can safely handle the basketball without turning it over (like Jackson) will be welcome.

  • Phil

    Great interview, Marcus. Jamal seems like a real cool dude. I’m happy with the trade and looking forward to seeing how well he fits in with the team. My only real concern about his game is that he’s averaging a paltry 1.5 rebounds per game this season. He’s going to have to rb a little better than that on this squad.

  • jsl

    Thanks, Marcus. I’ve been down on the trade because I don’t see Crawford as a guy who plays defense or gets assists. Plus he always seems to be looking only for HIS shot — at least when I’m watching. Hope I’m wrong. We’ll see.

  • Kevin

    Thanks Marcus, I can’t help but think this might be the trade that brings us to the playoffs, just like the trade 2 years ago that brought Jack and Al, think that will happen?

  • Frank

    Marcus:

    It is time to change that logo at the top of your page… Al Harrington no more. Randolph, Biedrins or Turiaf smiles might do as replacement. Keep up the good work!

  • A.J.

    This will mean less minutes for Belinelli and probably an exit out of the rotation. All the more reason to think Belinelli may be on the ‘blocks.’

    I think we need a star player, a finisher, a closer.

    We need star talent on this team to compete in the West, plain and simple.

    I say Belinelli goes, there is no way they keep him with this addition and the emergence of Morrow.

    It will be a package deal and they should shoot for Vince Carter or another disgruntled star player who wants out of their current situation.

    It will be Belinelli, Marcus Williams, and maybe Anthony Randolph (I can’t see them parting with Wright, he is too talented a basketball player plus he has the North Carolina pedigree).

    Yeah, I say it’s Belinelli, Marcus Williams and Anthony Randolph for Vince Carter or somebody of that caliber, if the contracts permit. I don’t know what Carter’s contract looks like and whether it is doable, but this is the kind of direction the front office should be focusing on at this point.

  • sillythekids

    Man, if Brandon Roy loves it here.. I’m just dreaming.

  • jlight

    If Ellis comes back healty and ready to go. You’ll have Monta, Jaskson, Crawford, Cory, Vince, so whos playing the 5,4 and 3 in that lineup, AB, AR,BW, and RT see little playing time? thats way to much. Besides i dont think there’s a chance in hell they will part with AR. I’d rather keep Marco and give him 15 to 20 minutes a game. Hopefully he’ll get his confidence back along with his shot.

  • A.J.

    I agree Jlight about giving Belinelli more minutes, without question, that is the way to get a young player to establish himself in the league. But he has to produce when he’s in. Hopefully he will, like you said, so far he has been missing open shots.

    I think he should put the ball on the floor more and go to the basket. Develop that part of his game. You will start getting calls, getting to the line, getting some “And Ones” and developing your confidence.

    15-20 minutes would be great for him, I just don’t see Nelson granting those mintues to him, I see it allocated amongst Crawford and Morrow, leaving Belinelli with “prove yourself” minutes.

    By that I mean, Nelson just puts him in to make him feel part of the rotation as if to say, “Let’s see what you can do, go out and earn more playing time.”

    But Belinelli gets nervous in those situations and presses too hard. Also, he plays the 2, there are nothing but 2′s on this Golden State squad and most of our great players in this league play the 2.

    We’ll see how his game develops, I’ve always been a fan of Belinelli, but I want to see some aggressive prodcution from him, get to the line, put the ball on the floor, develop that first, we already know you can stick a jump shot…………supposedly!

  • Mr. B

    Thanks for the post. Crawford sounds interesting in that we all see him in the NBA as a SG but he may be a good PG.

    If he can make things a lot easier via ball distribution and placement for the other Ws, then we may be in business. Hopefully he can take the pressure off of Stephen, then the offense can flow smoother.

    The icing will be if he plays solid D and help us close games. We know he can close games.

  • A.J.

    Getting Carter would mean a smaller starting unit and adjusting playing times, no question. You’re right Jlight, I didn’t think ahead to the line-up, it would be difficult to fit him in.

    It would leave a key current piece out, either Jackson or Maggette.

    I am just trying to come up with some ideas to improve this team, if we have to have Maggette or Jackson come off the bench, I don’t have an issue with it if we start Vince Carter. The problem is, those players would have issues with it.

    Before Monta’s return:

    1. Crawford/Watson/Nelson
    2. Carter/Morrow
    3. Jackson/maybe move Maggette here because Randolph is traded in my proposed deal
    4. Wright
    5. Biedrins

    With Monta back, here it is:

    1. Ellis/Crawford/Watson
    2. Carter/Maggette/Morrow
    3. Jackson/Randolph will be traded in this deal so maybe Maggette here
    4. Wright
    5. Biedrins

    With Nelson at the healm, I’ve seen a lot weirder line ups and combinations that the ones I just gave. But again, there is no way Maggette or Jackson would come off the bench. This is all hypothetical.

    I jsut wanted to make sure I respond intelligently to Jlight so he knows that I know my basketball.

  • Tony M

    Great interview…Thx for posting..

    http://www.montasmoped.com

  • Earl monroe

    I now live in the NY area, and I can guarantee that Mullin would never
    trade for Carter, he is on the downside of his career, one injury away from
    retirement. (I watch most all Knick and Nets games, as well as Warrior games on theNBA ticket) And including Randolph in any deal is asinine, how many 19 year old 6’10 players with handle and rebounding ability come around?
    Stephen Jackson makes many more boneheaded plays than Randolph, and how long has he been in the league?
    When its all said and done, Randolph and Wright will have better NBA careers than
    Jackson.
    Belinelli has no trade value, the warriors have been trying to showcase him 4-5 minutes at a time, but he is so inconsistent with his shot the nets are not sure if he can play. Morrow has beaten Belinelli out. Warriors will be lucky if they can move Belinelli. (

  • GSWFan24

    Carter who? I know ya’ll not talking about Vince! For Randolph, yeah right! He’s not worth Belinelli with all his baggage…please

  • Peter

    Marcus,

    You will be hard pressed to find a Knick fan who describes Crawford as “under control”. Really. I talk to a lot of them and they bitch about shot selection and Crawford..

    However, this is GS. We had Baron, Al and Jax, and now Jax and Randolph needed a third wheel to chuck up crazy shots. And since Marco doesn’t get to play much….Welcome aboard Jamal. You’ll fit in well.

  • 558755

    Trade Maggette (when he is eligible) for a legitimate PF banger a.k.a. Drew Gooden. Send Maggette home back to Chicago and bring Gooden back home.

  • NotaNelsonfan

    Get rid of Randolph? Yeah right, 19 years of age 6’10, projected to be a Lamar Odom/Bosh type player.
    How many guys that height can bring up the ball like him. He will develop a 15-18 foot jumper, give him time. He’s gonna make mistakes at his age, but I see lots of promise in him for the future.

    Warriors aren’t doing well now, because:

    1. Nellie over plays Jax too much. Jax turns the ball over far too much, and does even stupider turnovers when he’s tired. So much for promising not to “Burn out his star players”., like he did to Jax and Baron last year.

    2. Maggette won’t be worth much at all if he keeps bombing three pointers and missing. Remember C.M is BEST when he goes to the basket and scores and draws fouls.
    That’s why he was useless in the Philly game. Too worried about throwing up three’s. Again that was the negative about signing CM, he can be a gunner.

    3. CJ frickn cannot even inbound the damn ball properly, and can’t finish a layup. He at best off the bench.

    4. Finally, why the W’s won’t get far:
    DON NELSON. Signing him to an extension was the biggest mistake of all.
    Watch teams like the Suns, Lakers, and Celtics. They are constantly moving the ball around, and not standing around.
    Nelson offense is to isolate two guys on one side and the other three on the other side. Basically the three on the other side does NOTHING but look at the other two. Granted once in a while one of the three will cut to the paint, but rarely.

    It’s about gunning long shots throughout the game and occassionally involving the entire five players on the team.
    Just ask Charles Barkley. He feels the same. Sorry guys, but our W’s really got some good players, and we could be even better and possibly a sixth or seventh seed, but NOT with Nelson. Warrior fans deserve far better than Don Nelson basketball.

  • commish

    I want to start the trade Maggette train right now, even without knowing how Monta will be when he returns. Get a big expiring contract for him and break up the logjam of swingmen. Maggette is about as advertised before we got him but doesn’t bring that extra zing our team needs to win in close games or close out a game where we are ahead by a little. And in case you haven’t noticed, virtually all of our games are close at the end because we can’t defend worth a damn. I don’t know if Maggette is worth $10M a year; that seemed to be a knee jerk reaction to Baron leaving, but it was a lot better than getting Arenas and watching him be on the injured reserved. That would have been a nightmare. Anyway, it would be great to clear some salary cap space by moving Maggette. I’m not interested in another player of equal value (within reason) because I’d like to make sure our young core develops. Nelson won’t sit a $10M year player to give our young and restless their chances. Hey, I know this isn’t going to happen right away, but I do hope it happens sooner than later.

  • Ray

    Im a knick fan and I can honestly say you have to take complaints from them with a grain of salt as a great many of us suffer from ” the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome.

    In situations like this I say dont look at what the fans say but how a players coach and teammates talk about him.All of his coaches have loved him and his teammates as well. Hes a team player player to the utmost and as someone who had high hopes for him when we traded for him I feel kinda sorry for him.

    He was on a bulls squad for 4 years that management had no intersst in winning .They just lived off the jordan money for years and told everyone how they would just let there young talent develop but yet they dumped Brand and Artest. They also had Marcus Fizer,Jay Williams ,Tyson Chandler,Eddy Curry and it was never about winning just the draft pick .

    He then gets traded to the knicks and Marbury basically blows up the franchise and Crawford gets labeled for not making the playoffs but those are some helluva odds to overcome without a superstar on the team and a constant rotation of coaches .

    I hope he does well and helps the warriors to the playoffs he deserves it.

  • Derek

    No.9&10; now hear this. BELINELLI sux and should not get any significant minutes. Belinelli is not an NBA caliber player.

    As for getting his confidence back. He’s never had any. The guy takes off balanced 3′s even when he’s unguarded. Belinelli is a Euro star, who cannot keep up in the big league

    Belinelli is garbage ! Can’t trade him because no team wants him.

  • potty

    Vince cant jump any more!!!!

  • potty

    He’s playin on old wheels.

  • jlight

    A couple of summer leagues ago i think just about every warrior fan was hailing marco as the next great thing, even playing him ahead of Monta. No one said anything about his lack of defense then or lack of anything for that matter. As it goes for a lot of nba players, if you can score the basket, teams will find a spot for you. T think in Marcos case, just like we have seen from Marrow these last two games, your shot is not always gonna fall, so you will have to be able to contribute in other ways. So what has Marco shown us in his 5 miutes every other game. He moves without the ball pretty good, he seems to be a good passer, has his defense really been as horrible as nellie would have us believe? Somewhere along the line I think he lost much of his confidence in himself, as it appeares his teammates have (dont seem to look for him) All I’m saying is two years in the league, well really one (not counting this year) I would like him to get a real chance, before we give up on him.

  • JustPuked

    Belinelli should be a knock down shooter (but he’s had stage fright), he’s an above average passer, and his one-on-one defense has improved from the stand point of staying in front of his man. Theoretically, there should be a place for this kid to be in someone’s eight or nine player rotation as an off the bench shooter and offense facilitator.

    The drawbacks remain, he’s not knocking down his shots, he still misses too many of his defensive assignments in regards to team D and help rotations, and he remains a sub-par rebounder. Until he improves in these areas, he’s not going to get a ton of playing time under Nellie.

    -Anthony Morrow has proven, in just a few months, to be better than Belinelli at providing exactly the things that Marco was supposed to bring to the team.-

    We all saw Randolph had game early in the season, but he didn’t get minutes until he proved he could do it in practice. I expect the same will prove true with Marco. Until he shows it to Nellie, he won’t be getting minutes.

    If MB gets traded it will be because Marco failed to do what he was asked to do in practice and Morrow emerged by out playing him on a daily basis in practice and when he got his opportunities on the court. You can’t blame anyone for that but Marco. Considering POB, Lasme, Diogu etc., that doesn’t bode well for Marco’s abilities.

    I had high hopes for the kid, and I’ve got nothing against him, but he hasn’t delivered. If he’s got potential, hopefully Nellie will keep him. But from what I’ve seen so far and considering the logjam in front of him keeps growing, I’d trading him for value while we still can. That’s a tough final analysis, from a guy that bought a Belinelli jersey from the Italian National Team two summer’s ago.

    PS, how did Belinelli hijack a Crawford Post? I can’t wait to see what Jamal brings tonight!

  • skeet frum da street

    good job brah…u always got the best news for the warriors