Turns out, the Atlanta Hawks were not blowing smoke about the likelihood of free agent Jamal Crawford moving on. The sixth man deluxe has agreed to terms with the Portland Trailblazers, and the runners-up in the race were the Sacramento Kings and the New York Knicks.
The Hawks, constrained by salary cap issues, evidently did not even make a play for Crawford. Portland will pay him $10 million for two seasons.
A clear sign of his departure appeared with the Hawks' signing of graybeard Tracy McGrady at about one-fourth the annual cost for Crawford. This is no even swap-out. While the core of the Hawks return, which will benefit them in the hurry-up season, Kirk Hinrich's injury and Crawford's exit leaves them shallow at the wing positions.
Crawford managed to win a Sixth Man of the Year award during his two years in the A-T-L. The first guy off the bench is often more valuable than a starter, as the Dallas Mavericks recognized with the acquisition of Lamar Odom.
No longer will the P.A. at Philips Arena regularly ring out with, "Jamal Crawford checking in for . . . " during the first quarter. The Hawks are worse off for it.