It's pretty easy to figure out which teams may have interest in a player while NBA Summer League is going on. All you have to do is wander around the Thomas & Mack Center a bit and you're bound to run into Daryl Morey, Mitch Kupchak, or maybe even Stan Van Gundy. That may have been the case as a new report suggests the Rockets, Lakers, and Pistons have a level of interest in trading for Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson, according to Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix.
Despite a second DUI arrest in the last six months, embattled Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson is generating interest on the trade market, NBA sources told SI.com. Houston, Detroit and the L.A. Lakers are among the teams that have expressed interest in Lawson recently, and there remains a strong possibility the Nuggets could unload Lawson before training camp. ...
While Lawson's off-court problems have raised red flags, teams remain intrigued by his talent. Last season, Lawson averaged 15.2 points per game in 75 games with the Nuggets. His 9.6 assists per game was good for third in the NBA—the second straight season he finished in the top three in the category.
Lawson's contract has two years remaining at $12.4 million and $13.2 million, respectively. Just what could the Nuggets get from one of those three teams in a deal for their troubled guard? That's the big question. Is Denver willing to "give" Lawson away? They could target a "salary dump" type of trade, like we saw when JaVale McGee and a first round pick were traded to the Philadelphia 76ers at the trade deadline last season. While the Nuggets had to add a first round pick into the McGee equation (he's still an unrestricted free agent, drawing minimal interest from teams this offseason), I don't think they'd need to do so in Lawson's case. Ty still has value as he's under contract for two seasons, but he may need to step away from the game for a bit; in order to sort his personal issues out.
Let's take a look at a few potential trade pieces from the rumored teams.
Rockets trade targets:
Donatas Motiejunas - the Lithuanian was hanging out with fellow countryman Tommy Balcetis, the Nuggets manager of analytics, during a Summer League game, but that's all it was. While the Nuggets would have interest in D-Mo, there'd be little reason for the Rockets to want to move him.
Terrance Jones - with D-Mo aboard, the Rockets could look to part with the 23 year-old power forward. Like D-Mo, Jones is entering into the final year of a rookie contract and has a qualifying offer after the season that could make him a restricted free agent. Building a trade around Jones would create a logjam for Denver at the PF spot, but he'd be a nice piece in a deal. Again, no idea if the Rockets would even put him on the trade table.
Sam Dekker - the rookie out of Wisconsin has been with the team in Las Vegas, but a back injury has kept him sidelined in Sin City. The Nuggets did work Dekker out, so they are familiar with him, and the 6'9" small forward can shoot the ball a little bit. Could the Nuggets get him in a deal and convert him to an oversized shooting guard spot? Doesn't seem like the best fit, but he could be a potential piece.
Clint Capela - Just 21 years old, Capela saw some valuable minutes in the playoffs, and is a big guy at 6'10" and 240 pounds. Denver also brought Capela in for a workout ahead of last year's draft, so they know him fairly well, too. He's a pretty valuable piece, and could see minutes for Houston this season with Josh Smith electing to sign with the LA Clippers.
The hard part for the Rockets would be matching salary to complete a deal for Lawson. It would have to be a creative trade, and that's something that is harder to do in the NBA; especially when you start talking about three-team deals. Somebody get Sam Hinkie on the phone, I'm sure he'd help out his old boss Morey in a deal that nets the 76ers some expiring contracts and draft picks.
Los Angeles Lakers:
Nick Young - While the Lakers would love to unload the $15+ million owed to Swaggy-P over the next three seasons (just over $5 million per season), the Nuggets would be insane to take him on. Young doesn't seem to possess any of the qualities the Nuggets have been seeking recently, as a part of changing their team culture. Young's carefree attitude would be a disaster on a young team. With Denver ridding themselves of McGee, it'd be hard to see them bring in one of his best friends; despite wanting to trade Lawson.
Larry Nance Jr. - The rookie out of Wyoming has a fondness for the Nuggets, his minimal rookie deal ($1.1 million in year one) makes any trade a difficult one without getting another team involved.
Julius Randle - Yeah, that's not happening.
The Lakers' big contracts with Kobe Bryant, Roy Hibbert, and Lou Williams are not going anywhere (HIbbert and Williams just arrived in LA), so again a creative trade would need to be worked out.
Brandon Jennings - He's on the final year of his contract, is owed $8.4 million, and is coming off an Achilles injury. That's a nice starting point since the money can more easily be matched up to Lawson's contract. Add in a couple contracts and you might have a deal. Let's say Denver tried to add Randy Foye ($3.1 million) and/or J.J. Hickson ($5.6 million) to a deal where Denver takes back, maybe, Jodie Meeks ($6.2 million), and you might really be talking. Ok, I'm probably being greedy here as the Pistons may not want to take back a bunch of money and bad contracts in a Lawson trade.
Spencer Dinwiddie - The former Colorado University guard is another player familiar with the Nuggets. His contract pays him just $845K this season, and turned into a non-guaranteed deal after the season, and has a qualifying offer two years from now; in case Detroit picks up his option for the 2016-17 season.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - The 22 year-old shooting guard was the 8th pick of the 2013 draft, and can shoot it a little bit. He raised his three-point percentage from 31% as a rookie to 34% on 5.4 attempts last season. Pope looks like the shooting guard of the future for the Pistons, and there'd likely be little interest in giving up on his talent at this point.
While it may be difficult for the Nuggets to get reasonable value at this point in any trade, the team may feel like they need to get something done now. it's hard to know what the right thing to do is here. The Nuggets could hold on to Lawson and hope that he turns things around for himself, but that might be a risky proposition if they have offers on the table. Denver must decide if the risk of keeping him or trading him now is worth the reward. It's apparent that with Jameer Nelson returning that the plan was to move Lawson, but plans change in the NBA.
This situation just goes to show you that a few decisions you make, can change the whole outlook of your present.
Jesse Paul of the Denver Post has an update on Ty Lawson's court case that will go on today in Colorado for the DUI he allegedly received earlier this year:
Embattled Nuggets' point guard Ty Lawson is due in Denver court Friday afternoon for a hearing that could include discussion on whether he'll be ordered to submit to continuous alcohol monitoring.
Citing Lawson's Los Angeles drunken driving arrest earlier this week, Denver prosecutors filed a motion Tuesday to require him to use a monitoring device as part of bond conditions in a drunk driving case he is facing in the Mile High City.
Friday's hearing was scheduled before the motion was filed, but prosecutors say it could be addressed at the hearing.
Lawson was charged with driving under the influence in Denver after he was pulled over in January driving 61 mph in a 35 mph zone on Park Avenue West, police said.
He posted bond in that case and was banned from alcohol consumption, and agreed to monitored sobriety.
"The people request that the court modify the conditions of (Lawson's) bond given his failure to comply with the conditions," the motion said.