SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The question put to Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder was about the individual expectations he has for the 2016-17 season. Crowder took a minute to ponder the inquiry when one of his friends seated nearby offered a suggestion: a spot on the NBA's All-Defensive team.
"That pissed me off," an animated Crowder said. "They gave it to Paul George on some bulls---. One of the reporters like you -- I’m not saying it was you -- but I rubbed somebody the wrong way down the road. And it cost me."
Crowder missed the final spot on the 2015-16 NBA All-Defensive teams by a single vote. Crowder finished with 47 points, including three first-team votes, as part of media voting; George had 48 points, including five first-team votes.
"What can I say? One vote. Cost me a little money. There was an incentive in [his contract]. It’s all good, though. It’s part of it. But that’s one thing: All-Defensive team, I’m going to get that next year, for sure. I really deserved it this year and I worked my ass off trying to be an elite name as a defender in the NBA, and I’m still working my butt off to do so. I feel like it’s only a matter of time to get recognized for that."
Crowder, visiting the Basketball Hall of Fame on Thursday as part of its 60 Days of Summer program, talked a lot about the Kevin Durant sales pitch (and expressed frustration at Durant's decision to sign with Golden State). Here are some additional highlights from his Q&A with ESPN.com:
You were less than 100 percent in the playoffs because of a late-season ankle injury. How is your health right now?
Crowder: [The ankle] just stopped getting soreness, like, two weeks ago. Unbelievable. I do what I do. I laced them up. At the same time, I had to get myself together physically this offseason. You just want to take some time, get your body to feel like newer or fresher a little bit, instead of worn down. Now I feel 100 percent good. I don’t feel any soreness in my ankle. I’m full tilt working out. I feel good.
What do you think of what you've seen from No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown?
Crowder: I think he’s a good kid. I think he’s a good athlete. I think he still has to learn how to play the game, slow down a little bit. It’s not always that fast, and he’s trying to go full throttle. But he looks like he’s a great kid. He’s very put-together, physically. And I’ve heard nothing but great things about him. I’m looking forward to playing with him.
You had an interesting emoji response to a story about potential 2017 free agents who might intrigue the Celtics
Crowder: Sleeping emoji. [Those type of stories keep] interrupting my people. And I keep seeing trade rumors, and I still see stuff like that. It’s like, man, it’s never going to stop. It’s never going to stop. I don’t get mad about it. I just make fun of it like I did. Sleeping emoji -- that’s funny. That’s what I did."
If this is the roster the Celtics carry into the season, what are your expectations for this team?
Crowder: My expectation is, for sure, to get out of the first round. Two years in a row we’ve [lost] in the first round. It’s not a taste you like in your mouth. I think that’s for sure the first step. Of course, I want to make the Eastern Conference finals. I think that’s the ceiling for this unit -- or where we're trying to get to. But I think the goal is, for sure, to get out of the first round and show a big leap of improvement."
What have you thought about the big contracts being signed this summer?
Crowder: I mean, it’s an exciting time to be an NBA player. That’s all I can say. I think all the older guys I talk to, my OGs -- Elton Brand and Vince Carter -- they were like, “Five more years could have been ideal.” It’s a great time to be in basketball. I think with the whole revenue deal, everybody from top to bottom probably gets impacted by it. It’s just a different era of basketball now with contracts and money. Teams being able to max out players as much as they can, that helps a team stack their team like Golden State. That’s the downside of the cap, being able to get two or three max players. I think the league is going to be changing because there’s so much money that teams have. And they can spend so much. I think the good side is, it’s good to be a basketball player. But looking at the competitive side and looking at how guys are all going to want to all get on one team, and it’s probably going to be able to happen now because teams are going to have the money now.
Is it frustrating at all that there may be role players the Celtics sign who will make more money than guys like you and Isaiah Thomas?
Crowder: I make $7 million per year. I’m not going to be mad at a guy making $10 million. We’re still millionaires. I got another contract coming up soon. Four [more years], I get to redo it -- three, actually [if they explore extensions]. I’m not worried. Money -- why I am mad? I make millions of dollars. That would be selfish of me. Why would I be mad about that?