According to The Journal Times, Denver has reportedly offered Lawson a four-year extension worth $45 million (via ESPN). He has until Halloween to finalize the deal or will otherwise become a restricted free agent in July.
The Nuggets evidently place high value on their fourth-year point guard. Lawson’s annual salary of $11.25 million would put him near the upper echelon of yearly deals for players at his position
For perspective, Chris Paul of the Clippers earns $17.7 million as the highest-paid point guard. The Spurs’ Tony Parker fills the other bookend of the top five with $12.5 million annually. That positions Lawson just below Parker at No. 6 (I don’t consider Manu Ginobili or Ben Gordon as point guards).
It’s safe to say Lawson would have some bragging rights if he indeed accepts this deal.
But the pertinent question is whether he’s worth that much in the first place. Is he really that critical to the identity and functionality of the Denver Nuggets?
The answer to that inquiry is an affirmative yes.
Ever since George Karl took over the team in 2005, the Nuggets have operated as an up-tempo, high-scoring team predicated on offense. They ranked in the top five in scoring from 2005-2007, dropping briefly to sixth in 2008.
Since Lawson arrived in 2009, the offensive production has remained tops in the NBA. Denver has held the No. 1 ranking in points per game for the past two seasons at 107.5 and 104.1.
In other words, his value with the team lies in the fact that he helps make it go—he’s part of the high-octane fuel for the high-performance sports car.
He provided a secondary spark his first two years when he came off the bench behind Chauncey Billups and Raymond Felton.
Then in his third year in 2011, Lawson started all 61 games in which he played, missing just five in the lockout-shortened season. He led the Nuggets in scoring and steals, and was just 0.1 assists per game behind the ageless Andre Miller for the team high.
Instead of entering the game in a reserve role, Lawson now assumes leadership of the team at the point guard position. He provides the complete package, while Miller is the veteran complement that effectively runs the offense primarily as a distributor in reduced minutes.
Now with Andre Iguodala manning the 2, the Nuggets will feature a backcourt that can do it all—shoot, facilitate, rebound (Iguodala) and play a little defense. Iguodala will really bring a defensive presence that will help open up the floor for Lawson. He’ll also serve as a big upgrade over Arron Afflalo.
So taken as a whole, the Nuggets are retaining a young talented nucleus of Iguodala, Kenneth Faried (SF), Danilo Gallinari (SF) and JaVale McGee (C). They clearly want Lawson running the show by offering him that considerable four-year extension.
As a rising young star who continually raises his game year in and year out, Ty Lawson is worth the $45 million.
He represents a continuing generation of floor generals in a point-guard driven league.
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