Hawks guard Jamal Crawford has avoided publicly expressing his displeasure with the team's front office for not offering a contract extension now more than three months after he requested one.
Yet Crawford, who has asked the Hawks to trade him if an agreement can't be reached, now sounds more urgent about his situation.
“I would love to be here long term, no doubts about it," Crawford said after a recent Philips Arena practice. "I would love to lock that up before I become a free agent. I want to make it work here. But if that is not the plan, I guess I will go elsewhere.”
Crawford, acquired by Atlanta in a trade with Golden State last summer, will make $10.1 million in the final year of his contract. He is seeking an extension beyond 2010-11 after winning the NBA’s Sixth Man Award and helping the Hawks to 53 victories and the No. 3 playoff seed in the East.
The uncertainty with the expiring collective bargaining agreement also is a major factor in Crawford's desire for an extension. Owners are seeking significant financial concessions from players for the new CBA beginning in the 2011-12 season.
Hawks general manager Rick Sund has declined comment on Crawford’s situation, citing his policy of not discussing players’ contracts. He also has resisted trade inquiries on Crawford from interested teams.
Crawford would be among the top players available if he becomes a free agent next summer.
“There is a part of me that is comfortable with that, but my whole thing is loyalty," Crawford said. "I’m a loyal person. And I thought the Hawks were big to step up and give me an opportunity to help them go further. I thought I played my role to the best of my abilities, and I just want to be here a long time."
Coach Larry Drew said he was pleased with Crawford's professionalism during training camp, which ended Sunday. Coaches offered to let Crawford sit out the team's sprints after his back tightened up during practice Thursday but Crawford finished.
Crawford said he’s trying to separate the business from the basketball
“That’s the tough part,” he said. “I’m just taking it one day at a time, being supportive of my teammates. I have the utmost respect for coach Drew and his staff, that’s for sure. I try to do as much as possible without my mind wandering too much."
After six days, 10 practices and a few nagging injuries, the Hawks finished training camp Sunday afternoon at Philips Arena.
The focus for Drew, who is in his first season as a head coach, was conditioning and the installation of his motion offense. He said the camp was successful on both counts.
“They picked up things pretty fast, a lot faster than I had anticipated. I'm very pleased,” Drew said, citing his players' energy, intensity and enthusiasm as camp pluses.
Four players in addition to Crawford missed practice time with injuries: Al Horford (ankle), Mo Evans (knee), Josh Powell (groin) and Pape Sy (back). Horford, Crawford and Powell could return to practice Monday.
The Hawks open exhibition play Thursday against Memphis at Philips Arena.
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