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Jamal Crawford: 'I would be honored to play for Sixers'

By Josh Liddick, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Philadelphia 76ers definitely wouldn't mind bringing in a new face to replace injured guard Zhaire Smith.

On Thursday, Brandon 'Scoop B' Robinson reported that the Sixers and veteran free agent guard Jamal Crawford had mutual interest. Crawford, 38, is at the tail-end of his career but is looking for a chance to compete on a young, rising team after spending last season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Robinson's report of Crawford's interest in the Sixers went viral over the last couple days and he had the veteran on 'Scoop B Radio' on Friday afternoon to discuss the matter.

Obviously, in order to want to play for a certain team, there also has to be a little bit of a desire to take your talents to a brand new city. Crawford told Robinson just how much of an interest he would have to play in Philadelphia.

"I like their city.  I like how into it they are about basketball, I like their knowledge of basketball, and how passionate they are.  I’ve always loved Coach Brett Brown. I’ve been on record, I’ve been a fan of his for years."

He just needed talent, and now he has that.  He added Ben Simmons, I love his game. I love Jojo (Joel Embiid). They’re both among my favorite players in the league to watch.

Markelle (Fultz) is like a little brother to me.  Obviously, he went to the University of Washington, and we talk every other day. JJ (Redick) is like a brother to me, we’ve been through wars together, so there’s so many things to love about Philadelphia.  For sure.

So would Crawford like to become a Philadelphia 76er this upcoming year?

"I think for me, especially being out there as a free agent, something could work out.  I would be honored to play there, but things obviously have to take its course and I kind of got to sit back, but who wouldn’t want to play there?  And I’ll leave it like that."

In order to sign a contract and play with a brand new team, there does need to be a sense of fit if Crawford does indeed become a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. He's one of the only free agents left that can fit the Sixers' need in this present moment, and a contract can get done without having to break the bank in the process. Crawford told Robinson just the kind of fit and game he would provide if the Sixers signed him to a deal.

"I think (the fit) it’s unique. When you lose (Ersan) Ilyasova, you lose a (Marco) Belinelli, guys who could score for you off the bench, obviously that’s my forte.  

I’m probably one of the best scorers out there, coming off the bench. From a leadership standpoint, having that vet who’s been through those wars and challenges, somebody who can get a shot when the play breaks down, especially in the playoffs.  

And where Philadelphia is going to get judged, ultimately, is their playoff success. They’re becoming one of those teams. If you have somebody who can get a shot and can get a clean look, I think that’s to your advantage. So, I think with that skillset, it would fit really good with what they’re doing."

It's no secret that Jamal Crawford is getting older, even though he averaged a little more than 10 points per game, two assists, and a board in 80 games for Minnesota last season. He was even named NBA Teammate of the Year last season. However, Crawford believes his game now is as good as its ever been before.

"I’m getting smarter.  I think the game is easier.  Like you said, the minutes was the second-fewest minutes I’ve ever played in my career, and still we were a No. 3 seed for the most part all year.  

I still average double digits. Per 36, my numbers were on par with everything I’ve ever done when I was 28 or 25. I think that would be a cop-out for me like, oh,  I’m this age and I’m playing against this guy.  No, for me, I’m still driven, when I’m out there I’m not thinking about age, when I’m training I’m not thinking about age, and if I haven’t fallen off by now, in my mind, it’s not going to happen.

I’m 38 going into my 19th year and I average double digits.  It’s so cool to be in a position, I thank God every day to be able to play, play every single game. I’ve only missed five games the last three years. I was the first player in history to play all 82 games for consecutive seasons, so I thank God for that.  I take care of my body, I stay in shape, and I’ll say this again: people will be pleasantly surprised."

While replacing Zhaire Smith will be difficult to do for his position, even though he's a rookie, the Sixers may be more inclined to find a decent free agent replacement for Marco Belinelli, who left Philly for San Antonio in July.

One thing is for sure, Jamal Crawford still has what it takes to compete in the NBA, even if he is one of the league's oldest players. It's just up to the Sixers on whether or not they'd like to take a chance on him, or wait for another opportunity that's not guaranteed to occur.

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