|Jamal Crawford could be headed out of Portland just months after he arrived. (Getty Images)|
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com reported Thursday that the Portland Trail Blazers were seeking a first round pick in a trade package for guard Jamal Crawford. Potential suitors included the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers. Add to that list the Indiana Pacers.
A league source with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com later Thursday that reported talks between the Blazers and Pacers are "legitimate" and have included a scenario that would send Crawford to Indiana for guard A.J. Price and a 2012 first round pick. Indiana has sufficient salary cap space to absorb Crawford's contract without matching salaries.
The Pacers were first linked to interest in trading for Crawford by ESPN.com and reportedly had interest in Crawford's services back in December, before the Seattle native elected to sign with the Blazers after also considering the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings. Crawford's name has surfaced in rumors since shortly after he became trade-eligible on March 1.
Indiana, the source said, is hesitant to part with a first round pick, given the quality and depth of this year's draft pool as well as Crawford's contract situation. Indeed, trading for Crawford and his $5 million salary amounts to a low-risk 2-month rental.
Crawford's player option for 2012-2013 -- and the uncertainty that goes with it -- could be hurting his value during early trade talks.
"The first team to give Portland a first round pick for Crawford will have him," the source predicted.
Crawford's Portland tenure hasn't worked out as expected. The Blazers are currently in the Northwest Division basement and Crawford has seen his role change and playing time vacillate due to Nicolas Batum's promotion to starting two guard and the ongoing struggles of point guard Raymond Felton.
There are links between Indiana and Portland executives. Indiana's director of player personnel Kevin Pritchard previously served as GM for the Blazers, before being fired on the night of the 2010 NBA Draft. Pritchard's hand-picked director of college scouting, Chad Buchanan, is currently serving as Acting GM for the Blazers, after previous GM Rich Cho was fired in May 2011.
Crawford, 31, is averaging 14.3 points and 3.8 assists in 26.8 minutes per game for the Blazers this season.