Craig, ring whatever happens

The forward is guaranteed the ring, a priori, after changing sides among the finalists this season. His wish is to win it on the track with the Suns.


Torrey Craig is now 30 years old. He is a very strong forward physically, with an instinct to rebound and a lot of defensive capacity, who ends up making himself important because of his dirty work and his muscle. Where offensive talent does not arrive, energy and cement arrive. Raised South Carolina, he played four years at USC Upstate before emigrating for a career (2014-17) in Australia and New Zealand. There, on four different teams, he won titles, MVPs, and Best Defender awards. And above all, he won the invitation from the Denver Nuggets to be part of their Summer League team in 2017. From there, where he impressed the Rockies team coaches, to a two-way contract, a lot of sweat in the field. G League (Sioux Falls Skyforce), debuted in the NBA on November 28, 2017 and finally a two-year, $ 4 million deal in the summer of 2018. When it ended, the Nuggets signed him and then rescinded a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent for 2.5 million. So Craig signed with the Bucks in November for $ 1.6 million.

The Bucks, in revamping their rotation to avoid new playoff bets and surround Giannis Antetokounmpo with a strong enough block (who, convinced, renewed), acquired a player with the ability to defend all over the court and take care of star forwards for a minimum contract. An apparent success that was not reflected on the track: on March 18 he was traded to the Phoenix Suns for about $ 150,000, the minimum possible if you want to close the operation without giving anything, not even a second draft round, in exchange. On the Suns, Monty Williams found Craig accommodated in his rotation because of his prowess as a defender and his ability to move between three and four and meet the team's needs when there were injuries or physical problems.

Craig, and that is why he is one of the characters in this final, has played 18 games with the Bucks and 32 with the Suns this season. In total, he has averaged 5.5 points and 3.9 rebounds, and in the playoffs he has participated in all 16 Arizona games with an average of more than 12 minutes on the court per night. His value was clear in Game 6 of the West final, when the Clippers' muscle and attitude had the Suns in trouble in the series: he played more than 31 minutes and put the necessary toughness on an already definitive win. Now he will fight for the ring ... which is actually guaranteed. Or so it should be, as he has played this season in both finalists. If the Suns win, it will be rightfully theirs. If the Bucks prevail, the normal thing is that they offer it to him for having been part of the team's rotation in the first part of the season. This is usually the case, although it would require final approval from the Wisconsin franchise owners. Craig has avoided the morbid and has limited himself to saying that what he wants is to win it on the track with his current team, Phoenix Suns.

Two players have been in a similar situation recently: Dion Waiters, cut by the Heat last season and on the payroll of the Lakers when the Angelenos beat Florida in the Bubble Final, and Anderson Varejao, the most notorious case . The Brazilian center left Barcelona in 2004 to play for the Cavaliers, where he spent twelve years (2004-16). In February 2016 he was traded to the Blazers and cut. His destination was the Golden State Warriors, where he faced the team of his life, the Cavs, in the famous Finals of the great comeback (from 3-1 to 3-4). The Cavaliers offered him the championship ring but he declined. Interestingly, the 2016-17 season started but was cut again in February. The Warriors offered him the ring for his contribution at the start of the season, and in this case he accepted.

The Suns want to take advantage of what Craig has to say about the insides of the team in which he started the season. Interestingly, he has played the Finals game with both jerseys this season: on February 10 the Suns won 125-124 at Phoenix and Craig played 15 minutes with the Bucks. Later, and until his transfer, he linked nine games without playing of the next eleven. The two teams met again, this time in Milwaukee, on April 19. The Suns won again by the minimum (127-128 after overtime) and Craig played with the Arizona team for 14 minutes. That will be his shirt now against his former team and after some Western playoffs in which he had to defeat, in the second round, his first NBA franchise, the Nuggets, who gave him his great opportunity four years ago.

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