Rockets and Ty Lawson Go Their Separate Ways
The Ty Lawson experiment didn’t even last a full season in Houston. Per reports, the Rockets and the veteran point guard have decided to go their separate ways, with the two sides reaching a buyout agreement on Tuesday morning.
Source: Houston Rockets and Ty Lawson materialize buyout before deadline.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) March 1, 2016
Lawson had been engulfed in trade rumors and buyout talks for much of the 2015-16 season and the divorce was finally made official. Brought in after falling out of favor with the Denver Nuggets, Lawson was initially regarded as a significant upgrade over Patrick Beverley at the point guard position. Instead, Lawson never found his niche with the Rockets and Beverley took the starting job back after only a few weeks.
The split was really about timing more than wondering if it was going to happen, as Lawson was not a good fit for Houston’s offense. A rhythm scorer, Lawson is at his best with the ball in his hands, which allows him to attack the rim, dribble into his own shots around the perimeter and set teammates up. Playing with a ball dominant star like James Harden, however, Lawson was taken out of his element as a true point guard and as a scorer was relegated to an unnatural spot-up shooting role.
Lawson was also a huge liability defensively, which again is a serious clash on a team with someone like Harden, who has been caught giving zero effort on the defensive side on numerous occasions.
In addition, Lawson came into the fray as a bit of a problem child, already dealing with a DUI and alcohol abuse in general. That issue didn’t fully go away in his time with the Rockets, although it has since reportedly improved over the past couple of months.
Problem in Houston
Lawson’s exit might underline a bigger issue in Houston, as the club also tried trading away Donatas Motiejunas and Marcus Thornton, but their deal with the Detroit Pistons was nixed due to back concerns regarding Motiejunas. The team has since retained Motiejunas and granted Thornton his release.
Still, the moves suggest the Rockets are very much headed for a new look come next season, when Dwight Howard is scheduled to hit free agency and just about anyone not named James Harden could (and should) quickly become expendable. The Rockets did a terrific job initially rebuilding their team into a legit playoff contender, but a year after making an appearance in the Western Conference Finals, they’re already threatening to miss the NBA playoffs (currently just 29-31).
Lawson’s Next Stop
The buyout comes just in time for Lawson to try to latch on elsewhere, and depending on the spot, Lawson could still provide some serious value. The big thing here is that Lawson is still a very talented and useful offensive player. If he can be a ball dominant play-maker, he could still help the right team. Anyone trying to use him in a role he’s not a fit for like Houston did, however, would likely be asking for trouble.
The Sacramento Kings are loosely in play due to George Karl’s history with Lawson, but teams badly needing point guard help like the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets seem to be more likely destinations. Lawson is no sure thing no matter where he winds up, but depending on the situation he would hypothetically give his new team a solid offensive boost at the point.
It’s tough to say if this move really helps or hurts anyone yet, as we don’t know where Lawson is headed. For Houston, it absolutely negatively impacts their depth and they will now have to lean harder on Patrick Beverley and also see what they can get out of Jason Terry. James Harden, who just last summer complained about having to run the offense too much, will also naturally take on even more work as a primary ball handler.
The Rockets aren’t going to move the needle much here. They’ve been a middling team all season due to atrocious defense and shaky guidance, and that’s not going to suddenly change. Lawson wasn’t a good fit and some might have even said he was a bit of a bad seed, but he takes depth and scoring with him. Houston won’t lose much, but they’re certainly not getting better ala the “addition by subtraction” notion. They should continue to be a .500 team and will be a shaky bet on a nightly basis, just like they have been all year.
For the daily fantasy basketball community, this means little for the Rockets. Lawson’s role had dwindled significantly over the past week, so perhaps Beverley or Terry get a couple extra minutes, but nothing that shakes the foundation of the DFS landscape. Lawson’s next landing spot is what we’ll want to keep an eye on, of course, as he still has the talent to be a big part of an offense. The Knicks or Nets seem like the two best spots for him and given his low price on DFS sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, he could be a fun target early on. I’d stay away from him in his first game (unless we know for sure he is starting and has a huge role) and test the waters. Eventually, however, he could carry solid value.
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