After arriving in Denver through a draft day trade, could Lawson again be dealt on or before the June 24th draft? One thing is for sure ... the lightning quick guard might have another reason to despise the draft.
First off, thanks to my boy Rory for alerting me to this story and to reader hvino for posting the link earlier this afternoon to Chad Ford's blurb about the Nuggets and their plans to perhaps move into this year's draft.
A number of NBA sources are telling me that the Denver Nuggets are in the hunt for a Top 10 pick. Nuggets GM Mark Warkentein has been calling around trying to gauge interest in teams selling the pick. According to sources Warkentein is offering Ty Lawson for the pick. A Nuggets source said the Nuggets are looking for big man to fill up their front line. Several bigs including Cole Aldrich, Ed Davis, Ekpe Udoh, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton and Hassan Whiteside could be there at 10. Link
There is no doubt that the Nuggets were all smiles last season when they were able to move into the draft and steal Ty Lawson with the 18th overall pick. In the above picture Mark Warkentien, Lawson and George Karl look as happy as can be, but if Lawson is traded for a draft pick and eventual unproven rookie (most likely a big man) how happy will Karl be?
The 22 year-old point guard out of North Carolina proved to be weapon in the League and I just got done writing his Exit Interview just a couple of weeks ago where I was looking forward to seeing what Lawson could do in year two. I'm hoping the rumors of Lawson's availability are not true, but if they are ... who is doing the thinking?
Andrew waxed poetically about the Nuggets front office situation with Wark and Rex Chapman both looking at their own upcoming free agency, so is floating Lawson's name around their bright ideas to keep their jobs or get themselves out of town? Fans of the Denver Broncos recall what it's like for a player's name to be floated in trade rumors. When Jay Cutler found out he might become part of a deal, he was so upset that he demanded the rumors to become reality and got himself shipped to the Chicago Bears. How will Lawson react?
The NBA is a business and Lawson gets another wake-up call to it. After having more than one team pass him up in the draft last year, most notably the Indiana Pacers who selected Lawson's college teammate Tyler Hansbrough when they were in desperate need of a point guard, Lawson was left with a chip on his shoulder. But being traded to Denver was a blessing in disguise. The Nuggets had a veteran point guard who Lawson could learn from and Denver had an opening for the backup guard duties with veteran Anthony Carter unable to hold on to his spot.
Hopefully if Lawson stays with the Nuggets he will be able to put these rumors behind him and continue to perform on the court. But don't think that Lawson will completely forget that his name did appear in trade rumors.
If the Nuggets do deal Lawson, what will it mean?
1.) Denver will likely own a Top 10 draft pick. It's rare that big men come into the league and are able to dominate right away. It typically takes a few seasons for big men to learn how to score in the NBA and what moves are going to work and which no longer will. But the biggest obstacle for young big men is the strength of his opposition. The physical demands of the NBA are a lot to handle and it takes time for big men to adjust, which is not something the Nuggets can really wait on with their championship window only slightly open. Dealing a young, NBA proven player and game changer for the hopes that a big man might develop is a big gamble ... and Wark, who loves his poker references, is always the gambler.
2.) Welcome back Anthony Carter? If Lawson were traded, the Nuggets would once again need to find a backup point guard. Lawson is the perfect change of pace guy off the Nuggets bench for Chauncey Billups and he has a knack for getting to the rim that a player of his stature shouldn't possess. There is something special about Lawson's game and it would be sad not to see it blossom in Denver. But the bigger problem is ... how could Denver possibly replace what he gave them in just one season with the team? Right now the Los Angeles Lakers are using three point guards with the ageless Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown to try to win a championship. Would you want Farmar or Brown as Denver's backup? I used to think Brown would be a great backup for Denver, but after watching Lawson I realize Brown will never be the player Lawson is. Brown is a backup and Lawson has all the makings of a starter in the League. Losing Lawson would be a bigger blow than the team realizes.
3.) What does Karl think? Lawson is a North Carolina man and definitely seemed to win Karl's approval, which is said to be a hard thing for rookies. Karl's health is still a major concern and I don't know how he's progressing this offseason, but I expect him to be on the bench when the season starts. And will Karl approve of not having Lawson around next season? Keeping the coach happy is important and if you want the coach to be able to cook, you better not take away his ingredients.
There was a debate during a famous NBA draft in 1984 that centered around a center and a guard. Back then the thinking was you always take a big man and build around him. So when the Portland Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan they thought they were doing the right thing.
In the NBA today the rules have been changed to help offense, to help quick guards and to help guys who attack the rim. The NBA is fueled by guards and yet we're watching a finals that is hinging on the play of big men. Kobe Bryant scored 38 points in Game 5, but the real story was how Pau Gasol disappeared as the Celtics big men have been swallowing him up.
The debate over the guard or the center will rage on for years. The most important thing the Nuggets can do is keep building towards a championship caliber team. Is trading an important chip for another important chip the way to go? In an ideal world the Nuggets would be able to grab a premier big man and keep Lawson, but that perfect world may only exist for teams that are willing to spend the money to live in it.
The rumor to trade Lawson is yet another reality for a small market team with ownership that might not be willing to spend the dough needed to bring home a championship to Denver.
photo courtesy of AP Photos