Kings general manager Vlade Divac confirmed Monday that Ty Lawson missed a team flight to Kentucky for Saturday night’s preseason game against Washington, but the reasons remain unclear.
The Kings will not suspend the veteran point guard, though he could be fined.
TMZ released a video clip on its website Monday that showed Lawson allegedly at a Las Vegas club Friday night with teammates Ben McLemore and Willie Cauley-Stein. Lawson has been arrested four times for DUI, but there were no images of drinking in the video, just the players grinning, singing and having a good time. McLemore and Cauley-Stein made the flight to Lexington.
Lawson was not made available to the media Monday at the team’s practice facility.
“He missed the flight, and he had a personal reason for it,” Divac said, indicating Lawson will be on the roster when the regular season starts Oct. 26 at Phoenix. “We talked to him the other day, inside house (discussion). He’s practicing. He’s here.”
Lawson also was late to the shootaround before Thursday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Las Vegas. The team didn’t discuss the matter.
Coach Dave Joerger said Lawson is firmly in his rotation, adding, “Don’t know why he wouldn’t be.”
Lawson, 28, had six mostly productive seasons with Denver. Six days after his last DUI arrest on July 14, 2015, the Nuggets traded Lawson to Houston, where he played 53 games before he was waived. He finished last season with Indiana, playing 13 regular-season ganes and seven playoff contests.
In August, the Kings signed Lawson to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, hoping he could fill the void with starting point guard Darren Collison facing an eight-game league suspension after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. Last season, the league suspended Lawson for two games because of his DUI arrests.
Lawson said during training camp he was eager for a fresh start with the Kings, adding, “I’ve grown a lot. I’ve got a lot to prove, and I got a chip on my shoulder to prove it.”
He’s a very important member of this team. We realize sometimes it’s bigger than basketball, and that’s what it is right now. Most importantly, he needs to take care of what he needs to take care of. He’s got to get that cleared up before basketball.
Matt Barnes, Kings forward, on Ty Lawson
As for what happened Saturday, Joerger said: “There is no situation. The decisions that were made of the plane and all that stuff, that’s on me. It’s a personal issue that has been very inaccurately reported (nationally). I know what happened for real. It’s a personal deal.
“To me, we deal with it like any other player. Things happen in all of our lives. That’s it. No basketball to it. People think (it’s more than that), and that’s purely speculation. If there was an incident, we’d deal with it.”
Asked if Lawson had a relapse, Joerger said, “That would be inaccurate.”
“How do we know he was drinking?” Divac told reporters who asked why Lawson missed the flight. “That’s not true. He missed the flight, and we are dealing with him. He apologized for that.”
Joerger and Divac insisted the Kings are bonding quickly. Joerger, in his first year with the team after a successful three-year run with Memphis, said the trip to Kentucky was a success.
“We had a tremendous trip,” Joerger said. “It was the first time together, seven new guys, new personalities. The bus rides were fun, the hotel was fun, the flight was fun. Guys caring about each other, getting along. A little bit of a honeymoon.”
There is no situation. The decisions that were made of the plane and all that stuff, that’s on me. It’s a personal issue that has been very inaccurately reported (nationally). I know what happened for real. It’s a personal deal.
Dave Joerger, Kings coach, on Ty Lawson
Lawson has played well this preseason. In three games, he has averaged 8.0 points, shot 64.3 percent and totaled 13 assists.
Forward Matt Barnes said Lawson has his teammates’ support.
“This is a family, and when we say ‘family’ in the huddle, you don’t just mean it – you got to show it,” Barnes said. “(Lawson) is going through stuff off the court. I reached out to him because I’ve been through everything off the court, personally. We’ve been talking a lot of late. It’s something we’re going to help him get through.
“He’s a very important member of this team. We realize sometimes it’s bigger than basketball, and that’s what it is right now. Most importantly, he needs to take care of what he needs to take care of. He’s got to get that cleared up before basketball.”