Ty Lawson officially has his opportunity with the Kings.
Lawson claimed the Kings’ final roster spot Monday, when the team waived fellow point guards Jordan Farmar and Isaiah Cousins to reach the league maximum of 15 players. He will start in Wednesday’s season opener at Phoenix.
I’ve been going hard in practice, trying to get my wind up. Coach (Dave Joerger) has been telling me I’m going to be playing 30 to 40 (minutes per game), so I’m going to work hard, try to get my wind up and get ready for it.
Ty Lawson, Kings point guard
Entering training camp, the Kings had 14 players with guaranteed contracts, and Lawson always was the favorite for the last spot. Even after Lawson was late to a shootaround Oct. 13 in Las Vegas and missed the team’s flight to Kentucky the next day, the organization said it was still behind him.
Lawson will have a heavy burden as the Kings’ only true point guard for the first eight games while Darren Collison serves a suspension after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge. Garrett Temple will back up Lawson.
“I’ve been going hard in practice, trying to get my wind up,” Lawson said. “Coach (Dave Joerger) has been telling me I’m going to be playing 30 to 40 (minutes per game), so I’m going to work hard, try to get my wind up and get ready for it.”
Entering his eighth season, Lawson hopes to regain his form from 2014-15, when he averaged 15.2 points and a career-high 9.6 assists with Denver. But he had two DUI arrests in 2015, and the Nuggets traded him to Houston in the offseason.
The Rockets waived Lawson in March, and he spent the rest of last season with Indiana, finishing with averages of 5.7 points and 3.6 assists.
How Lawson holds up will be a key to how the Kings begin the season, which starts with 11 games in 17 nights. They get a back-to-back immediately, facing San Antonio at Golden 1 Center on Thursday.
“It’s going to be a rough stretch, 11 games in 17 nights,” Lawson said. “If things go bad, we’ve just got to stick together. We can’t pull apart. Things are going to happen, but I feel like if we stay positive and stick together, we’ll be able to get through it.”
Even though the Kings have eight new players, Lawson said they have the fortitude to withstand early adversity because of their prior relationships. With Denver, Lawson played alongside shooting guard Arron Afflalo, a fellow Kings newcomer.
Lawson, who said the Kings will rely on their defense when they struggle, admitted he’s still getting comfortable with the offense.
“Knowing where everybody’s going to get their shots from and things like that,” he said.
It’s going to be a rough stretch, 11 games in 17 nights. If things go bad, we’ve just got to stick together. We can’t pull apart. Things are going to happen, but I feel like if we stay positive and stick together, we’ll be able to get through it.
Ty Lawson, Kings point guard
Farmar signed a non-guaranteed deal before training camp. He played for Kings coach Dave Joerger in Memphis last season.
Cousins was the Kings’ second-round pick, 59th overall, in the June draft, and he has a partially guaranteed contract this season.
Lawson said the final cuts weigh on the team.
“It’s been a month, we’ve been able to bond with each other, been playing with each other, been practicing with each other, just getting to know everybody,” he said. “The cut day is always the toughest.”
Meanwhile, forward Lamar Patterson, who was cut last week, signed with the Kings’ NBA Development League team in Reno.