ATLANTA (AP)—Jamal Crawford(notes) says every game in his first season in Atlanta felt like a concert.
Now the winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man Award last season is hoping for more than one encore with the Hawks.
Crawford will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. He had a quick answer when asked what he’s looking for.
“What do I want? I want to be here,” Crawford said at the start of the Hawks’ training camp.
“I love being here. I LOVE being here. I had a ball every time. I felt like I was at a concert performing every time I played here. It was just a lot of fun.”
Despite that declaration of love for the Hawks, Crawford’s future with the team is in doubt. Atlanta re-signed Joe Johnson(notes) to a six-year deal worth more than $123 million in the offseason, and they made Jordan Crawford(notes) the team’s first-round draft pick.
Jamal Crawford, Johnson and Jordan Crawford are all shooting guards. Jamal Crawford says he understands the business side of the game, as the depth at the position may make it difficult for the team to re-sign the 10-year veteran.
Hawks general manager Rick Sund said the good news is Jamal Crawford, like Johnson and the team’s other recent free agents, wants to remain with the team.
“The nice thing is we’ve got a lot of players on our team the last four of five years who are free agents and they’ve wanted to stay here,” Sund said after Monday’s practice.
“That’s good. I always look at that as a positive.”
Sund wouldn’t comment on Crawford’s contract status, but he noted the organization has been aggressive in keeping the team together.
“The organization the last few years has done an outstanding job to retain players who have become free agents, and a lot of that is because the players have wanted to remain here and we’ve been financially competitive with the other teams,” Sund said.
This season’s talks are more complicated as the NBA its players’ association try to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement.
“The CBA, there’s no telling what the cap will be and that’s everything,” Crawford said. “That’s very important.”
Crawford said he understands his desire to re-sign with Atlanta doesn’t mean his wish will be granted.
“To be at this point right now is interesting,” he said. “It’s definitely an interesting situation, but I’m just playing the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ll go from there.
“If I move forward and I’m not here or whatever happens, I understand. I know it’s a business. As long as I’m here I’m going to try to help.”
Crawford has been slowed by a sore lower back as the Hawks prepare for the first preseason game against Memphis on Thursday night.
Crawford averaged 18 points, 3.0 assists and 31 minutes despite not starting a game. He ranked 29th in the league in scoring and first among players who did not start.
He was the team’s top 3-point shooter and scored 20 or more points in 31 games.
First-year coach Larry Drew said he wants Crawford in the same role this season.
“Absolutely. That’s who he is,” Drew said Monday. “That’s what he brings to the table for us and has great value. There are going to be some nights when we’re going to need a guy to come off the bench and score points. He has those type skills.”