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A league source tells TNT’s David Aldridge that the Knicks, Trail Blazers, Pacers and Timberwolves are among the teams in hottest pursuit of Hawks free agent guard Jamal Crawford.
New York, the source said, is still trying to figure out some way to carve out additional cap room for the multi-year amount that Crawford is seeking. At present, all the Knicks could offer is the new two-year “room” exception for teams that are under the luxury tax threshold, starting at $2.5 million. The Blazers and Pacers are interested as well, though right now, it would be more likely that Crawford would sign one-year deals with each team and test the free agent market again next summer when more teams will have significant cap room.
Portland has limits on how much it’s willing to spend, though, and Indiana is contemplating going forward with a deal that would bring O.J. Mayo from Memphis in exchange for Josh McRoberts. The Pacers and Grizzlies nearly completed a Mayo-McRoberts trade last February before the trade deadline, but the deal collapsed at the last moment, with each team subsequently blaming the other for backing out. It isn’t clear when Mayo or Crawford would be Indiana’s top priority. The Timberwolves added to their already-crowded backcourt Monday by agreeing to terms with guard J.J. Barea on a four-year, $19 million deal.
The Hawks are unwilling to do a sign-and-trade deal for Crawford if it gets them anywhere near the luxury tax threshold. Atlanta is currently around $65 million in team salary and will not take on additional money in exchange for Crawford, who is seeking a deal above the $8 million per year that Marcus Thornton received to re-sign with the Kings.
Last week it appeared as if Chicago would get involved with Crawford, but the Bulls are expected to sign Richard Hamilton, who was officially bought out on Monday by the Detroit Pistons, to a deal as early as Wednesday.