There's a strong argument that point guard Ty Lawson deserves a maximum-level extension from the Denver Nuggets, but there's an even stronger argument that the organization can't afford to do otherwise.
Even if you aren't sold on Lawson's ability or upside, the reality is that Denver has a lot of young options at every position but the point.
The Nuggets are stocked with up-and-coming talent on the wing and in the painted area alike, but it goes without saying that Andre Miller isn't a long-term solution as the Nuggets' floor general.
In other words, we really shouldn't be surprised that getting this deal done is something of a foregone conclusion.
According to the Denver Post's Christopher Dempsey, that's how Lawson sees it anyway:
It's definitely going to get done...I know I want to be here. I know they want me here. I think something is going to be done soon.
There's nothing especially ambiguous about the two sides' intentions, nor should there be.
The Nuggets can ill-afford to lose the engine that keeps its up-tempo offense humming along at a breakneck pace. The 24-year-old's improvement has been steadily meteoric in his three seasons out of North Carolina.
He averaged 16.4 points and 6.6 assists last season, proving he was more than capable of bettering Denver with his scoring and distribution alike.
But, his foot-speed may be his most attractive asset.
George Karl's offense slows down for no one, and it takes a lightening-quick point guard to keep that offense rolling. Few are quicker than Lawson.
And, though only 5'11", he's pretty tough too. Lawson can shoot from the perimeter (he has shot 39 percent from behind the arc for his career), but his strength makes him a constant threat to penetrate and finish regardless of what big men happen to be occupying the paint.
Size hasn't made this guy any less effective.
Nor has his youth.
Lawson scored 24 points or more four times in his seven-game series against the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. Despite a couple of off games, he proved to be ready for the spotlight and—more importantly—ready to guide his young team to success at the highest levels.
The Nuggets may still be a year or two away from making more serious postseason noise, but you can rest assured they'll be much further away without Lawson in the mix.
Denver has little chance of rivaling more established contenders in the West without a difference-maker running the point. Danilo Gallinari won't be creating many of his own shots, and JaVale McGee certainly won't be lobbing the ball to himself.
There's no telling what would happen to the Nuggets' high-scoring offense without Lawson's ability to drive and kick at will.
Whether you think Lawson actually merits a max deal may be another question, but it's worth remembering that the market accounts for what teams are willing to pay.
Given the difficulty Denver would have in replacing Lawson, is there really any doubt it's willing to shell out the big bucks?
There shouldn't be.
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