The Kings took a chance on Ty Lawson last fall, hoping he’d add depth at point guard after his off-court issues turned off many teams. And now they might turn to him again.
His one-year deal up, he’s an unrestricted free agent on a market for point guards that already began to sort itself out Friday in the hours before free agency officially opens at 9:01 p.m. The trade of Ricky Rubio from Minnesota to Utah provided clarity as to who would be available for the Kings.
They’re searching for a veteran to pair with rookies De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason III, and although there is mutual interest between the Kings and Lawson, a deal is not imminent. Lawson played for the veteran’s minimum last season on a non-guaranteed deal and would expect a raise.
“It was cool being here the whole year,” Lawson said after Sacramento’s home finale in April. “I wasn’t guaranteed, but I really didn’t have to look over my shoulder trying to figure out what I’m going to do, if I’m being traded, stuff like that. It felt good, it felt like home; I like it here.”
Lawson averaged 9.9 points and 4.8 assists last season, his eighth, primarily as a reserve. Outside of a situation last October when Lawson missed a team flight from Las Vegas to Lexington, Ky., there were no team-related issues with Lawson. He was popular among teammates and coaches and often played in the fourth quarter of Kings’ wins.
Lawson’s past DUI arrests might scare off some teams, but the Kings could be inclined to keep him if he’s not wooed by a deal elsewhere. The Kings are expected to see how the market plays out before offering Lawson.
With Rubio headed to Utah, starter George Hill is unlikely to return to the Jazz and Minnesota is now in the market for a starting point guard. That could put a veteran like Jeff Teague, Kyle Lowry or even Hill on the Timberwolves’ radar.
The Kings drafted Fox to be their future star at the point, but also want a capable veteran to help usher Fox and Mason through the rigors of the league.
Sacramento was about $52 million below the projected salary cap entering free agency, but part will go to Bogdan Bogdanovic, who is expected to make around $8 million next season. That still leaves the Kings plenty of room to entice a veteran to a situation where he knows his replacement is already on the team.
Kings coach Dave Joerger was a big fan of Lawson, but he’ll probably have to wait a few days to find out if he’ll call Sacramento home next season.