The Denver Nuggets hope to fly up and down the court on the legs of Ty Lawson. The fourth year point guard from the University of North Carolina came alive in the seven game first round series against the Los Angeles Lakers last year. The Denver Nuggets hope to be an up and coming team in the West with preseason rankings putting them anywhere from 8th to 2nd in the conference. The Nuggets see this success hinging on Lawson and have offered him a four year $45 million dollar contract extension.
Lawson saw his fast pace offense outrun the Lakers in their playoff series. He averaged seven more points per game in the playoffs than his career average, with 19. His leadership, coupled with veteran Andre Miller, gave the Nuggets the option of utilizing their many weapons. With the addition of Andre Iguodala and the hopeful emergence of Javale McGee, Kenneth Faried and Danilo Gallinari, Lawson could be the point man for the most exciting offensive team in the league.
The contract would play out to about $11.25 million a year over the four years, which is below market value for the elite point guards in the NBA. While the number is slightly higher that Rajon Rando, other point guards make far more. Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams and Chris Paul all make more. The question is, does Lawson belong in the elite category?
The Nuggets drafted Lawson because he scored highest on the points per 100 possessions on the floor metric in college. This was despite his being my height, about 5’11’’, and under 200 pounds. For Lawson to reach that elite level, he needs to consistently control the game pace for the Nuggets, which he has yet to do. If he reaches that All-Star caliber, than this contract is a steal for the Nuggets.
Denver has until their first game to sign Lawson to an extension or they will have to wait until after the season. They would then have to compete for Lawson on the open market as a restricted free agent. Is there a team willing to drive Lawson’s price up to $58 million over four years? Will Lawson’s agent require him to try the free agent market?