After starring at Marquette University, Jae Crowder spent the first two and a half years of his NBA career in a reserve role for the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 4.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.9 minutes over 181 contests.
However, he carved out a prominent role as a member of the Boston Celtics after he was traded there midway through the 2014-2015 campaign. In the 2015-2016 season, he put up a career-high 14.2 points and 5.1 boards per game, establishing himself as a viable offensive threat and above-average perimeter defender.
Last season, he averaged 13.9 points and a career-high 5.8 rebounds per contest and was one of the vocal leaders on the team.
Due to his team-friendly contract and recent production, Crowder’s name had been involved in trade rumors throughout his time in Boston. Last month, he was dealt to the Cleveland Cavaliers along with Isaiah Thomas, Ante Zizic, Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick and a 2020 second-round selection.
In his introductory press conference with Cleveland on Thursday, Crowder revealed a heartbreaking story of an event that happened on the day of the trade.
"There was a lot going on that day, obviously," Crowder told reporters during the press conference. "The good thing about the whole ordeal was I was able to whisper it to my mom before she passed. I was with her. I just told her, 'We're going to Cleveland.' Five minutes later, she passed. That day was tough, but it was a good day for myself, for my basketball career, to move on to an organization like this, like the Cleveland Cavaliers, to put myself in a position to play for it all. I couldn't ask myself for nothing else.”
He added, “I was thankful for Boston, for everything they've done for me, and for trading me to a team like this. I was thankful for the opportunity. But that day was pretty wild.”
After the Celtics signed star forward Gordon Hayward in free agency and also drafted Jayson Tatum out of Duke University with the third overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Crowder knew that his position would be a bit crowded in the coming season, thus making a trade more realistic.
"I was a little concerned," he admitted. "We had a lot of wing players stacked up. It was a little concerning. I made it clear to the organization that I was concerned about it and just wanted more direction. I think they gave it to me with the trade. They showed me what they wanted to do. I respected it.”
Crowder will likely be the only member of the trade who will make an immediate impact for the Cavaliers, since Isaiah Thomas is sidelined indefinitely with his hip injury and Zizic is an inexperienced 20-year-old center in need of some grooming. He will have every opportunity to make Boston pay for trading him when the two teams open the regular season against each other on October 17.