Monty Williams prefers Jae Crowder's situation resolved before Phoenix Suns season opener

Head coach Monty Williams isn't looking too deep into Jae Crowder's situation with the Phoenix Suns as the team has been trying to trade him.

"It didn't really bother me," Williams said. "Once I learned all the stuff that was going on, I was like, OK, it is what it is. In this league, you're going to have distractions. My thing is I can't focus on it. Once I know what is, then I can move forward."

Crowder and the Suns have "mutually agreed" the veteran forward won't attend training camp, but Williams is hopeful they can put a conclusion to this before the Oct. 19 season opener against Dallas at Footprint Center.

Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) aims a three-point basket over Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) aims a three-point basket over Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (14) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

"We've done a decent job of acclimating guys into the program and that's a credit to the coaches, but also the players that help guys along once we get new people in here," Williams continued. "I'm not so much worried about the timeline. Ideally, you'd like to get someone in here before opening night, but I like the group we have."

Sources informed The Republic that Phoenix tried to trade Crowder this month to Utah for Bojan Bogdanovic, but talks broke down when the Suns asked for Jarred Vanderbilt, who the Jazz acquired from Minnesota in the blockbuster Rudy Gobert deal.

Sources also told The Republic the Suns went into camp looking to start Cam Johnson at the four and bring Crowder off the bench. Phoenix has been in negotiations with Johnson for a rookie extension as he is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal.

At Monday's media day, Johnson said there's no "bad blood" between he and Crowder.

Mar 13, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, United States;  Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) reacts after making a three point basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Footprint Center.
Mar 13, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, United States; Phoenix Suns forward Jae Crowder (99) reacts after making a three point basket against the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Footprint Center.

"Your best advocate is your own advocate," Johnson said. "If that's a career move that he feels he needs to make, as a teammate, you want what's best for your guys. You want what's best for your boys. There's no bad blood between Jae and I. Jae has looked out for me the past couple of years. He's taught me a lot. He's shown me a lot. He's somebody I can always call and say, 'What do you see on this?'"

Crowder started all 80 games he played last season counting the playoffs in what was a historic season for the Suns. Winners of a franchise-record 64 games in the regular season, Phoenix earned the top overall seed in last season's playoffs.

He has posted several times on his Instagram account in recent days indicating he is ready to move on from Phoenix.

MORE: Jae Crowder Instagram post reveals mindset in wanting to move on from Suns

The Suns now enter camp not only without a starter who was a key contributor, but Crowder also served as a team leader along with Devin Booker and Chris Paul.

"It sucks," Suns wing Mikal Bridges said. "I love 9-9. I remember telling him all the time he's one of my favorite vets ever. It's the business and how things go.  I knew, especially from the (2021) finals, when I look around, I know everybody, we're not going to be here forever. Just how it is. Kind of sad. I miss my guy, though."

Apr 22, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.;  Phoenix Suns forwards Cameron Johnson (23) and Jae Crowder (99) celebrate after winning Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs against the New Orleans Pelicans 114-111.
Apr 22, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.; Phoenix Suns forwards Cameron Johnson (23) and Jae Crowder (99) celebrate after winning Game 3 of the Western Conference playoffs against the New Orleans Pelicans 114-111.

However, Williams talked after Wednesday's practice about Dario Saric and Torrey Craig being options at power forward along with Johnson and Damion Lee.

Golden State utilized Lee at the four in small-ball lineups.

"Cam is going to have a bigger role," Williams said. "So from that perspective, I think we're going to be OK, but ideally, you'd like somebody in here before opening night."

Have opinion about current state of the Suns? Reach Suns Insider Duane Rankin at dmrankin@gannett.com or contact him at 480-787-1240. Follow him on Twitter at @DuaneRankin.

Support local journalism. Start your online subscription.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Monty Williams prefers Jae Crowder's situation done before Suns opener