Stinar: Standout reserve Crawford deserves another shot

Veteran guard Jamal Crawford appeared in 64 games with the Suns last season.

There is never the perfect time for a longtime NBA standout to call it quits, and for most 39-year-olds, the league is in the rear view mirror. However, in the case of Jamal Crawford, there is still plenty more to give.

There is virtually no team that can claim a player such as Crawford wouldn’t be needed. Even rebuilding teams could use his leadership and positive personality in the locker room.

Mostly, Crawford remains a productive — and even outstanding — scoring guard. He remains better than most of the bench players around the league.

One of the biggest arguments against signing aging stars is they are taking shots and minutes away from young players. That may be true, but so what? If a young player wants to play, he should have to earn his spot against anyone, including a 39-year-old.

Last season with the Phoenix Suns, Crawford quietly had a solid season, averaging 7.9 points and 3.6 assists in just less than 19 minutes per game. During Crawford’s final four games of the season, his minutes increased and he averaged a ridiculous 31.0 points and 6.0 assists per game. In one of those games, he scored 51 points off the bench.

Not a lot of players can put up those types of numbers in any stretch.

Maybe teams are just being stubborn. Crawford’s situation is nothing like that of Carmelo Anthony, who’s used to being a superstar. Meanwhile, Crawford has been a lifelong sixth man. He has been mastering a reserve role his entire career and is undoubtedly among the best in league history to play that role.

Training camp began around the league last week, teams have started to play preseason games, and Crawford remains unsigned. Someone who doesn’t know too much about his situation may question how much he even wants to play, but there’s no doubt he still wants to be out there.

Back in March, when I asked Crawford if he’d play this season, he was adamant.

“I’ll be playing,” he said about next season after a Suns’ loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

So Crawford remains available, but it’s worth remembering he didn’t sign with the Suns until the middle of October last season.

There is still time and there are plenty of teams who could, and should, bring Crawford aboard.