The Denver Nuggets were an absolute mess last season, and it’s fair to say their embattled star point guard accounted for at least some of that widespread dysfunction. Now that Ty Lawson is in a far more fruitful situation with the Houston Rockets, though, it’s just as fair to expect him to thrive both on and off the court – a prospect he seems more certain than ever will become a reality.
Lawson had dinner with Rockets coach Kevin McHale when he was in Houston recently. And not only did he leave the meeting singing praises of his new leader, but also gushed about the chance to play for a legitimate contender. Here’s Lawson courtesy of Fox 26 Houston’s Mark Berman:
“Kevin McHale, he’s a cool coach,” Lawson said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I sat down and had dinner with him, probably like a week ago.
“He just keeps everything real. He’s played before, so he knows what we’re going through. He makes everything straight forward, no grey areas. It was fun. We talked about everything, not just basketball, just life… “So I’m excited to play for him.”
“It’s a huge chance,” Lawson said. “(The Rockets) went to the Western Conference Finals and could have won, but you just needed a couple of extra pieces. So I’m excited to be playing in a situation where I know I have a chance to win.”
It’s difficult to hear Lawson speak so glowingly of McHale without Brian Shaw, the former Nuggets coach, coming to mind.
Though beloved as an assistant with both the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers, Shaw never found his footing as the lead man roaming the sidelines in Denver. His failings weren’t just related to forcing square pegs like Lawson and Kenneth Faried into round holes like aspects of the triangle offense, either. Shaw never found a way to relate to his band of admittedly less-than-professional players, even famously resorting to a pre-game rap of scouting reports in efforts to reach them.
McHale, meanwhile, is perhaps the most player-friendly coach in the league. He’s notoriously mild-mannered and has even been described as fatherly, while his in-game offensive concepts stress the freedom that helped all NBA players reach the pinnacle of their sport.
Though questions remain about how he’ll coexist with the similarly ball-dominant James Harden – we submit he comes off the bench, by the way – Lawson stands to benefit immensely from the Rockets’ attack and the talent surrounding him. It’s his extracurricular activities that could pose the biggest problem. Even that concern, however, is mitigated by playing in Houston. John Lucas, a former player turned life coach of sorts who experienced his own string of substance-related issues, still calls the city home, and the Rockets reportedly have plans to make Lawson his next project.
His first season in Houston is a golden opportunity for Lawson to redirect his suddenly wayward career. And if he can’t do so with McHale and the Rockets, it seems like there may not be a team with which it’s possible.