Crowder won't make Bucks debut until after All-Star break

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee Bucks forward Jae Crowder got so frustrated during his layoff that he sometimes yelled or cursed while watching multiple games simultaneously on the four televisions he'd set up at his home.

"I'd get mad," Crowder said Monday while talking to reporters for the first time since the Bucks acquired him at last week's trade deadline. "I'd get frustrated because I'd know I was supposed to be in those situations at some point now, and I'm three or four months of not being in that situation."

Crowder must wait a little longer before making his debut with his new team.

Coach Mike Budenholzer said Monday that Crowder won't start playing with Milwaukee until after the All-Star break. Crowder won't be available when the Bucks put their 10-game winning streak on the line Tuesday against the NBA-leading Boston Celtics or when they visit Chicago two nights later.

Crowder hasn't played at all this season after making 67 starts and averaging 9.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists for the Phoenix Suns in 2021-22. The Suns announced in late September that Crowder wouldn't be joining them for training camp in what was described as a mutual decision. They'd been working on a trade for him ever since.

The 32-year-old Crowder wouldn't specify what caused his issues with the Suns.

"I just feel like it's behind me now," Crowder said. "We had some stuff happen internally that they asked me to keep inside, so I'm going to grant their wishes. Obviously I've been working with these guys for a trade partner for months now. I think give or take they did exactly what they said they was going to do. Took longer than what we all expected, but it got done."

The Suns moved him to the Brooklyn Nets in the deal that brought Kevin Durant to Phoenix. The Bucks acquired Crowder by sending three second-round picks plus forward Jordan Nwora, guard George Hill and center Serge Ibaka to the Indiana Pacers and shipping two second-round picks to Brooklyn. The Pacers later waived Ibaka.

Crowder appreciated the opportunity to go to Milwaukee.

After making NBA Finals appearances with Miami in 2020 and Phoenix in 2021, Crowder wanted to continue playing for a winning team. Heading back to the Midwest enables him to spend more time with his 9-year-old daughter, Jada, who lives in Chicago.

This also represents a homecoming for Crowder, who played at Marquette from 2010-12. Crowder said he headed to Marquette's downtown campus once he arrived in Milwaukee.

"I just took a ride down memory lane," he said. "I went to see where I used to stay at. I rolled through the town, through campus. I just embraced it and took it all in. I think it's full circle for me in my life. Here we are 12 years later, 11 years later, I'm back where it all started for myself and this journey."

The Bucks believe Crowder's presence as a 3-point shooter and big wing defender boosts their bid to win a second title in three seasons. The question is how soon he will be in peak form after not playing all season.

Crowder says he'd been working out strenuously while awaiting a trade but noted that Monday's practice marked the first time "in months" he'd participated in 5-on-5 drills against other NBA players.

"My lungs are where they need to be," Crowder said. "My legs are heavy."

The Bucks are quite familiar with Crowder's ability to produce in the postseason.

Crowder helped Miami knock off the top-seeded Bucks in five games in the 2020 Eastern Conference semifinals. Crowder was with Phoenix the following season when the Suns lost to the Bucks in the NBA Finals. He shot over 40% from 3-point range in each of those two series and has 107 career postseason appearances.

"He does whatever it takes to win," Budenholzer said. "He does so many little things on both ends of the court, defensively and offensively. He's got kind of a toughness on the offensive end, sets screens. He understands spacing, understands timing. He's won a ton."

Crowder is looking to make another deep playoff run with a different team now that he's completed his extended farewell with the Suns.

"I'm thankful for my time in Phoenix," Crowder said. "I'm thankful for my teammates. I'm thankful for the organization embracing me the past two years – we had a great run and we did some great things in Phoenix and we turned their culture around. So I'm happy for those guys. I wish them luck moving forward. I'm moving on to my next chapter in my career here in Milwaukee."

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