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Rockets Keep Lawson on Trade Block
Friday, Dec. 18
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the Rockets are continuing to trade Lawson as a fit on the court has failed to materialize:
The Rockets’ front office has been cooperating with Lawson’s representatives in exploring possible deals to bring back some measure of return on the organization’s original investment in Lawson, league sources said.
Lawson relinquished the $13.2 million player option on his 2016-17 contract to clear the way for Houston to acquire him from the Denver Nuggets in July. Because Lawson has struggled to find a way to play off the ball with star James Harden on the floor, the organization and Lawson’s representatives are moving toward cutting short this experiment, league sources said.
Calvin Watkins of ESPN reported Houston would like to keep Lawson, but Lawson's people would like him to receive more playing time elsewhere.
On Dec. 1, Basketball Insiders' Steve Kyler reported Lawson could be traded, writing, "The Rockets have been sniffing around the league for deals and there is a belief among other teams that Lawson could be had in trade."
Struggling Lawson Still Has Value
Nobody expected Lawson to take a starring role in Houston with James Harden and Dwight Howard already on the squad, but he was at least supposed to bring some scoring to the point guard position—something the Rockets lack when Patrick Beverley is on the floor.
Instead, Lawson is averaging 7.2 points a game on a paltry 33.6 percent shooting. He's also making 30.8 percent of his three-pointers. Both percentages are on track to be the lowest of his career. According to Basketball-Reference.com, the 28-year-old is also dishing out 5.5 assists per 36 minutes—two assists below his career average (7.6).
After the Grizzlies game, interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff didn't sound as if he planned on giving Lawson a significantly improved role in the coming weeks, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
We want to simplify our rotation. We want to make sure we have guys in comfortable positions. With Pat coming back, that gave us another body in the mix. Obviously, we're going to play Pat. We want to see him out on the floor, giving us what he brings.
We're trying to find out (players) that complement one another and we're trying to find guys that help us win first and foremost.
Lawson is only a year removed from averaging 15.2 points and 9.6 assists a night for the Denver Nuggets. He may never hit that peak again, but surely he's better than he's showed over the last few months.
Still, some suitors will be scared off by his performance this year and the fact he entered a 30-day treatment program over the summer. His time in Denver ended in somewhat ignominious fashion as well.
If the Rockets are desperate to offload Lawson, they could likely find a suitor. Unless Lawson starts showing some sort of improvement, though, Houston may not be able to receive much of a return in any deal.