By Casey Holdahl - There might not be a more apt and/or clever nickname in the NBA than Allen Crabbe’s “Cool Breeze” moniker, which was given to the 6-6 wing by his teammates during his first season in Portland. It works on multiple levels, as Crabbe’s initials are “AC” — an apparatus many Trail Blazers fans will be firing up as the summer approaches — and he’s a quiet, easy going kind of guy from Los Angeles. Put those two things together and you get Allen “Cool Breeze” Crabbe.
Perhaps it’s due to that laid back outlook on life that Crabbe was able to toil in relative obscurity his first two years in the NBA before making a name for himself during the 2015-16 season. While the Trail Blazers’ coaching staff has been bullish on Crabbe’s talent since he first arrived in Portland, there was never much of a chance, be it due to an illness during his rookie training camp or a lack of available minutes at his position his sophomore season, to get him on the court.
But that changed this season. After biding his time, which is not such an easy thing to do for young players entering the NBA, the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year finally got an opportunity to play regular minutes with a defined role in 2015-16 and responded with averages of 10.3 points on 46 percent shooting from the field and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 26.0 minutes per game this season. He played in more games, 81, during the 2015-16 season than he had in his first two season combined while his minutes per game almost doubled from the 2014-15 campaign. As Portland’s primary sixth man, Crabbe tripled his 2014-15 averages in shot attempts and points while improving his shooting percentages from both the field and three.
“The first two years, it was kind of trying to figure out a lot of things,” said Crabbe. “Where can I be successful? How can I (have) an impact on the court for the team? How can I contribute in other ways that just scoring and things like that? Just as the games went on and the season went along, I just feel like I continued to grow in a lot of areas… A lot of positives but still things to learn.”
The question is: Will that maturation continue in Portland? With his initial three-year deal set to expire, Crabbe enters the offseason as a free agent who is sure to have plenty of suitors once teams can start courting players in July. But he’s also a restricted free agent, meaning the Trail Blazers can match any offer another team makes to the former Cal Bear, not to mention it sounds like he’d be perfectly happy to continue his career with the Trail Blazers, a young team that won 44 games this season and made it to the Western Conference semifinals.
“Any pay raise is going to be significantly higher than what I’m making now,” said Crabbe, who was selected by the Cavaliers with 31st pick of the 2013 Draft before being traded to Portland. “But like I said earlier, it’s just situation really for me. It doesn’t make sense to make a lot of money and go to a team that, if you don’t fit that system, then get paid a lot of money to be frustrated? That doesn’t make sense to me. The culture here, it’s great. I know this organization well, I know the system, know the coaches, players. It’s just real comfortable here. I wouldn’t mind being here, I really wouldn’t.”
Considering the way he played this season, it’s safe to assume the Trail Blazers and the fans in Rip City wouldn’t mind that either.