There comes a point where we have to admit the Denver Nuggets don't do everything right.
And we've officially reached that point.
After a wildly successful offseason that saw the Nuggets land star swingman Andre Iguodala for peanuts, re-sign both JaVale McGee and Andre Miller, and add the likes of Evan Fournier, Quincy Miller and Anthony Randolph, the team is engaging in an unnecessary battle of the wait-and-see game with Ty Lawson.
Yes, Lawson. The same point guard who led the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game and in PER, posting a final tally of 19.43, good for ninth among all point guards. The same point guard who dished out over six dimes per contest last season. The same point guard, who after just three years, isn't afraid to take the big shot and to embrace the pressure-filled moments.
And yes, the same point guard who is up for a new contract at the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
But the Nuggets don't have to wait that long. They can work out an extension now and lock up their restricted-free-agent-to-be before he hits the open market in July.
And considering Lawson is more than open to such an idea, it's a win-win scenario, a mere formality at this point, is it not?
You'd like to think so, and so would I, but we'd be wrong.
According Yannis Koutroupis of HOOPSWORLD, the Nuggets and Lawson may be nearing an extension, but are not quite there yet:
For months, Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson has voiced confidence that he’ll receive a contract extension that will keep him from hitting free agency at season’s end. Despite the fact that a deal still isn’t done with the Oct. 31 deadline looming, Lawson believes something will get worked out.
“I’m still confident,” Lawson said to HOOPSWORLD. “My agent is working with Masai Ujiri and Josh Kroenke so I feel like in the next couple of weeks something will get done. We’ll see.”
According to sources close to the situation, the Nuggets’ current offer is in the neighborhood of $44 million over four years, which is just south of what it will likely take to get a deal done before free agency. The 2013 free agency class isn’t going to be overflowing with starting-caliber point guards like Lawson. On the open market, he could very easily receive an offer in the $12-13 million range per year.
There's no doubt in my mind that Denver will eventually lock up Lawson. My doubt, my problem, lies in the "eventual" nature of the matter.
With the October 31 deadline to work out extensions rapidly approaching, this contract should have been ironed out months ago. Instead, here the Nuggets are, playing futile hardball with their now second-best athlete, and—here comes that word again—eventual MVP.
And yet, here Lawson is, still saying all the right things, maintaining an unwavering sense of loyalty when he could be throwing the Nuggets under the bus Carmelo Anthony style.
While I admire such chivalry, there's no denying that Lawson should be—and probably is—feeling slighted by Denver's latest offer.
I get that four years and $44 million is a lot of money. I really do. But it's the same amount the Nuggets offered JaVale McGee, who donned blue and yellow for just 20 games last season. It's also merely $2 million less than the team threw Danilo Gallinari's way.
Both Gallinari and McGee, while vital to Denver's championship cause, are nowhere near as important to the franchise as Lawson, who blossomed into a consistent, star-caliber athlete last season.
Let's also not fail to acknowledge the obvious: Should Lawson hit the open market, at least one team is going to toss him an offer similar to that of Roy Hibbert's, somewhere in the range of four years and $58 million.
I know it, you know it, Lawson himself knows it and perhaps the most troubling is, the Nuggets know it.
Yet they continue to drag this out, continue to throw unsuitable offers across the table like they're doing the point guard a favor.
Well, it might be time for a reality check for Masai Ujiri and company, because they don't have any leverage here.
Lawson will be coming off his rookie contract and therefore isn't in the same boat as, let's say, Chris Paul. But someone is going to offer him Hibbert-esque money, whether he deserves it or not.
By working out an extension with the point guard now, though, the Nuggets have an opportunity to retain one of their cornerstones at a slight discount, not unlike the opportunity the Blazers had with Nicolas Batum last year.
But Portland blew it. It waited too long and Batum went on to set his own market value at an upwards of $50 million.
At this rate, the cash-conscious Denver franchise is toiling with the same expensive reality. If Lawson doesn't sign an extension now, he'll sign a fatter offer sheet this summer, then the Nuggets will be forced to match it because they won't be amenable to losing him for nothing.
Which is just what this latest offer means—nothing.
Lawson, unlike Batum and even Hibbert, has already proven he can lead his team, and he should be rewarded accordingly.
After all, it's not like Denver has a plethora of options to replace him with next summer. Any available starting-worthy point guards are named Chris Paul, and therefore too expensive for the Nuggets to sign, are restricted free agents or players with team options.
And assuming even half of those latter two types of athletes actually reach free agency, why would Denver pony up the kind of dollar signs to an unfamiliar face when Lawson has been running a postseason-caliber show for the better part of two years.
It just doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense for the Nuggets to prolong what should be the inevitable and it doesn't make sense for Lawson to stand idly by and insult his importance to the team.
Which is why Denver needs to offer Lawson a contract actually worth extending, one that's actually worth him signing.
Because as team-oriented as he is, even the most selfless of floor generals have their breaking point.
And the Nuggets won't want to find out what happens if Lawson reaches his.
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