The signs were clear, but in a minor surprise the Denver Nuggets have traded embattled point guard Ty Lawson to the Houston Rockets for a package including a protected first-round pick and Kostas Papanikolaou, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Lawson was arrested and charged with his fourth DUI – and second within a year – on July 14, but the relationship between he and the Nuggets had been strained long before that. Despite a career year in which he averaged 15 points and nearly 10 assists per game, Lawson had multiple off-court issues, including the previously mentioned DUI and a missed flight from Las Vegas back to Denver after the All-Star break.
Lawson now gets a fresh start in Houston, though it’s not clear if he’ll be the starting point guard. He’s a better offensive player than Patrick Beverley, but Beverley is a better fit next to the ball-dominant James Harden. However, Harden has said he wants another player to help with the ball-handling duties, and Lawson will surely help in that regard.
As for Denver, the signs are clear: They’re handing the reins to rookie Emmanuel Mudiay. Perhaps not right away, as Jameer Nelson may begin the season as the starting point guard, but it would be shocking if Mudiay is not the starter well before the All-Star break.