The 50-cents-on-the-dollar trade that Denver Nuggets fans have been waiting for has finally happened, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.
Wojnarowski is reporting that the Denver Nuggets' starting, talented - and oft troubled - point guard Ty Lawson has been traded to the Houston Rockets for four players and a future protected first round pick. In trade for Lawson, the Nuggets are reportedly taking back Houston will send forward Kostas Papanikolaou, point guard Pablo Prigioni, center/forward Joey Dorsey, guard Nick Johnson and a protected 2016 first-round draft pick to Denver. The Nuggets will also send Houston a 2017 second round pick.
This trade comes with both good news and bad news simultaneously.
On the one hand, the Nuggets did themselves good by trading Lawson so quickly after his latest run-in with the law ... just a week or so after Lawson was arrested for his second DUI suspicion in six months and his subsequent admission into a 30-day alcohol treatment program in California. All of this, of course, coming on the heels of bizarre Lawson behavior that has been going on for over a year. The Nuggets are now rid of a giant on and off-the-court distraction and can avoid Lawson potentially contaminating and/or impeding rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay's growth when training camp begins a few months from now. Moreover, by moving Lawson off their books the Nuggets just freed up nearly $26 million in salary, giving them ample cap space and flexibility down the road.
On the other hand, the Nuggets traded Lawson at the bottom of his trade value and just made their Western Conference rival Rockets even stronger than they already were. Say what you want about Lawson's seemingly unending stream of off-the-court antics, but in the right environment he's a legitimate starting point guard in the NBA and by being paired with the defensive-minded Patrick Beverley in the Rockets' back court, MVP candidate James Harden, perennial All-Star center Dwight Howard and solid role players like Corey Brewer, Donatas Motiejunas, Trevor Ariza and K.J. McDaniels, the rich just got richer in Houston. Lest we forget that the Rockets competed in the 2015 Western Conference Finals against the eventual champion Golden State Warriors with Beverley injured throughout the series. If Lawson can right his troubled ways, his addition could make the Rockets a contender for the Western Conference championship.
Regarding the "haul" the Nuggets got in return for Lawson, this four player package is basically a tier above cutting Lawson altogether and just eating his salary. Wojnaworski is already reporting that the aging Prigioni will either be waived or traded by the Nuggets within 24 hours. So no Ricky Pierce / Mark Jackson comparisons will be apt here (90s Nuggets fans will get that reference).
Papanikolaou has an outside shot at making the roster. He's only 24 years old but doesn't have a guaranteed contract. But he's from Greece and has a last name that's difficult to pronounce, so he'll fit in fine with the Nuggets current roster that includes Joffrey Lauvergne, Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic, Danilo Gallinari, Mudiay and others. What representative countries are we missing now anyway?
Dorsey's contract is guaranteed through next season. If you remember, Dorsey played on John Calipari's University of Memphis team alongside Derrick Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts that
choked against lost to Kansas in an epic NCAA Final in 2009. Since then, Dorsey has eked out a few NBA seasons as a low end journeyman and returned to the Rockets last season after a three year absence from the NBA.
Johnson was an exciting player at the University of Arizona (he's actually the nephew of the deceased Dennis Johnson, a legendary NBA player, NBA champion and Hall of Famer) but he's woefully undersized for the NBA's starting shooting guard position and can't shoot straight. Or at least didn't in his 28 games as a Rocket last season. But of the four players the Nuggets just got for Lawson, Johnson is the one that comes with a morsel of excitement.
As I noted above, the Nuggets rid themselves of a huge problem in Lawson and if you're looking for a silver lining to this trade, it could be an "addition by subtraction" deal that enables Mudiay to grow as the starting point guard sooner than later while allowing new coach Michael Malone to build his offense around Mudiay.
So when Nuggets fans look back on the night that Ty Lawson was traded, perhaps it will be remembered as the night that the Denver Nuggets officially became Emmanuel Mudiay's team.