Wizards' Jordan Crawford not sitting pretty

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Benched guard could be dealt at trade deadline

Jordan Crawford couldn't stop smiling and laughing as he and a half-dozen of his Wizards teammates had a long-distance shooting contest at the end of Wednesday's practice.

But the third-year guard, who has become the most mentioned name on the roster as the NBA trade deadline approaches Thursday, kept a straight face as he blindly ignored an interview request on the way to the locker room afterward.

With that being the case, Crawford's actions in Washington's 96-88 loss to Toronto on Tuesday will have to serve as the best indication of his feelings about his current team and playing situation. En route to his fourth straight game without any playing time, Crawford spent the evening reclined at the end of the Wizards' bench with a towel like a hood over his head.

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A small "Jor-dan Craw-ford!" chant was heard as Washington struggled offensively late in the game, but Crawford removed his warmups only to toss his jersey into the stands as he exited the court following the final whistle.

"He's like any of our other 14 guys. He's got to stay with it," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said after the game, though he wasn't aware of Crawford's demeanor. "It's a test of your will and character. I look at those things as you're building a team. Who handles it the right way, who stays in it, who stays ready -- those are important things."

Crawford was Washington's leading scorer over the first two months of the season, averaging 19.1 points in December, but his status promised to be volatile from the moment the Wizards selected Bradley Beal with the third overall pick in last June's draft.

Beal's ascension to Crawford's starting shooting guard spot was expected but slowed by the absence of John Wall. The Wizards needed Crawford's backcourt help, and he provided it, both scoring and running the team. But Crawford ceded his starting job to Beal when he arrived late for shootaround the day after Christmas. He then missed four games with a sore left ankle and came off the bench in the next 12 contests before losing his place in the rotation altogether.

Multiple reports in recent days, particularly after Tuesday's game, suggest that the Wizards (15-37) are trying to move Crawford before 3 p.m. Thursday. The rest of his teammates are less concerned about a part of the NBA that they can't control.

"It didn't even occur to me," said nine-year veteran Emeka Okafor, whose player option for $14.9 million could eat a large chunk of Washington's salary budget next season. "Nothing happens until it does. You don't really think about it. It's part of the game."

Even though the Wizards have improved over the last month, Wittman knows the organization can't be satisfied, and he has seen the usual anxiety from his players.

"We're not Miami," Wittman said. "We're not Oklahoma City, where you're pretty set. Teams like ourselves, we're always looking. We still need to continue to build and improve this team with talent and different things. For a team like us, we're probably looking or listening."

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner