In November, Jamal Crawford was elated about being traded to the Warriors . He was back on the West Coast, playing a fun style on a team with promise. Seven months later, Crawford again is 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 the Warriors have agreed to trade Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks for point guards Speedy Claxton and Acie Law. The deal can't go through until Wednesday, when the 2009-10 season effectively begins.
The trade has little impact on what the Warriors do in tonight's NBA draft, as neither Claxton nor Law is what they are looking for in their quest for a point guard, according to team sources. This move does, however, save the Warriors about $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. 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 about 80 percent of his salary, saving the Warriors even more cap space.
Law, a second-year guard, has one year left for $2.2 million. The Warriors could exercise their team option on the fourth year of his contract by Oct. 31, but it is more likely they will let him walk after this season.
Team sources said neither acquisition would fill the Warriors' hole at point guard.
Still, many expect the Warriors to draft Arizona power forward Jordan Hill, who is presumed to be the player highest on their wish list when they select at No. 7.
General Manager Larry Riley said Monday he expects two of the four point guards they would want to take to be among the first six picks. He said there is only one other power forward they would take, but drafting him at 7 would be a reach.
Crawford, who split time at both guard positions, was expected to be dealt after Coach Don Nelson told him to opt out of his contract 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 Wednesday, 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 that has several teams cutting back, therefore limiting his chances of getting similar money elsewhere. To allay the Hawks' concerns, Crawford said he would 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)."
Crawford is excited about joining the Hawks, who represent the best chance he has had at making the playoffs. He thinks he and Joe Johnson would make a great guard tandem.
Crawford expected the same with him and Warriors guard Monta Ellis. He said he is disappointed things didn't work out but is happy to be moving on.
"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."