It is, naturally, method too simplified to suggest that the reason the Miami Heat are struggling to discover their method in the Eastern Conference and the factor the Phoenix Suns discover themselves flourishing in the West is because of Jae Crowder.

And yet the linkage exists, Crowder leaving the Heat in the shortened offseason for the security of a multiyear agreement with the Suns.

So as the Heat’s wheel of lineups has spun, the Suns have found themselves with the extremely kind of frontcourt stability the Heat discovered in last season’s playoffs with Crowder.

The paradox: At the time Crowder took the Suns’ three-year, $29.2 million agreement, the expectation was the Heat would hold off on an extension to Bam Adebayo in order to optimize their 2021 cap area. Therefore the big, one-year deal to Crowder.

Then Adebayo ended up getting his five-year, $163 million extension, followed soon afterwards by Giannis Antetokounmpo removing himself from the 2021 free-agent market with an extension of his own.

Crowder, in his comments to Phoenix media at the start of camp, said he thought that was how it was going to play out with Adebayo.

” I expected that,” Crowder said, “to be truthful, quicker than when it took place.”

Which is why, as the Heat have actually cycled through Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk in the power rotation in a quote for created their very first winning streak of the season, it stands even more difficult why more wasn’t done to keep Crowder.

That’s not to state that Crowder is an ultimate difference-maker, but rather that he appreciates such is not his required. With the Heat, it was to support Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. With the Suns, to complement Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton.

However it also is not as if it came down entirely to a choice of Heat or Suns.

” The process was chaotic,” Crowder said, signing with the Suns less than three weeks after he and the Heat came within two triumphes of a championship. “Fourteen groups called. Fourteen groups threw an agreement and I just needed to kick back and absorb everything in.

” And as soon as I got a phone call from Chris and Devin, those people made a strong pitch.”

While hardly a mercenary, considering he has actually been traded 6 times and has signed as a free agent just two times over his nine seasons, he said he viewed the Suns as a chance to help something thrive.

” Once I got that phone from those men, I needed to dwindle it down to a get a team, and I was simply able to decide exclusively off of me imagining myself wanting to assist an organization getting to play playoff basketball once again,” he stated.

When the Heat acquired Crowder in last February’s trade along with Andre Iguodala and Solomon Hill from the Memphis Grizzlies for Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and James Johnson, the focus was on how Iguodala might add his playoff pedigree to Erik Spoelstra’s mix.

Rather, it was Crowder who solidified the Heat’s playoff run as the starting power forward.

The irony is that he wound up with more than 5 months to accustom with the Heat, due to the pandemic shutdown. With the Suns, he has actually belonged to the company for all of seven weeks.

That, he said, is the benefit of a career that has consisted of stops with seven groups.

” I understood it was going to be chaotic,” he stated of this Suns transition. “That was a true blessing in disguise. I’m extremely happy for other groups even giving me the opportunity, due to the fact that one day that call is not going to come, that phone is not going to ring as much. So I’m very thankful to be in this position, simply to be a hot commodity and be wanted. I seemed like I was able to make the best decision for myself.”

As for the Heat, a bit less turmoil when it came to the timing elements with Adebayo and Antetokounmpo and this season’s wheel of power forwards never would have been set in motion– with the Heat’s loss the Suns’ gain.

( c) 2021 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

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