NBA@2: Lawson, Nuggets On Verge Of Extension?
In an anomaly, the Denver Nuggets have successfully avoided the draft lottery and also managed to remain a perennial playoff contender despite dealing their franchise centerpiece Carmelo Anthony away last year.
One of the Nuggets’ most important building blocks of the future and reasons behind the post-Anthony success is point guard Ty Lawson who will enter next season on the last year of his rookie contract. But in an age where free agent drama permeates the landscape there appears to be little mystery surrounding Lawson’s future with the franchise. The team has made it clear they’re including Lawson in their long term plans and he’s looking forward to signing an extension as soon as possible.
“We’ve already been negotiating and talking about it,” Lawson told HOOPSWORLD about the status of contract talks at Las Vegas Summer League. “So my agent and the team will probably come to an agreement real soon.”
Lawson is also pleased the franchise was able to retain veteran point guard Andre Miller this summer in free agency. Miller had numerous suitors around the league, but ultimately decided to return to Denver backing up Lawson and providing his leadership experience.
“It was huge,” Lawson said on the team’s ability to retain Miller. “I learned a lot from him and he’s the leader of our team. He makes sure everybody is on the same page, so it was big to get him back.”
Entering his fourth season, Lawson is now attending Las Vegas Summer League this year as a team leader providing support for the younger guys on the roster. Up until this point he’s been impressed with the growth shown and progress made.
“They’re playing well together,” Lawson said. “They’re out here playing hard. Jordan Hamilton looks like he’s growing up a little bit. This is the first time I’ve seen Evan Fournier play and he’s done real well.”
Hamilton was the No. 26 overall pick of the 2011 draft, but is appearing in his first summer league action due to the lockout which canceled last year’s edition. Hamilton appeared in just 26 contests as a rookie and averaged 4.4 points per contests on 43 percent shooting.
Lawson believes the experienced gained through summer league for Hamilton is already paying big dividends.
“It’s huge because it’s his team right now,” Lawson said. “It gives him a chance to grow and actually show everything he’s got and he’s taking full advantage of it right now.”
One of the remaining priorities for the Nuggets this summer revolves around the status of restricted free agent JaVale McGee. The two sides continue to work out a new multi-year deal, but the organization has remained consistent in its public statements about their desire to lock McGee up long term.
McGee’s performance was one of the key reasons the Nuggets were able to push the Los Angeles Lakers to seven games in the first round of the playoffs this past season. In must win games (3 and 5), McGee averaged 18.5 points and 14.5 rebounds on 71 percent shooting.
McGee’s potential to develop even further has convinced Lawson that re-signing him is a must for the organization to keep pressing forward.
“JaVale has an incredible upside,” Lawson said. “He showed everybody what he could do in the playoffs last year. So for us to lock him up for four years, it will be huge for our team success.”
The Nuggets have reached the playoffs nine consecutive seasons, but have only managed to advance past the first round once in that time period.
Courtney Lee At Top Of Boston Celtics Target List? The Boston Celtics surprised many last season by making a run to the Eastern Conference Finals, losing in seven games to the eventual champion Miami HEAT. While most thought the Celtics’ title window was slammed shut with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the charge, the team showed it has plenty of fight left.
The strategy this summer has been all about reloading on the fly for Boston’s front office and the organization is intent on taking another title run.
With the team still seeking to add more rotational talent to their bench, the attention has now shifted to landing free agent guard Courtney Lee according to league sources.
“With O.J. [Mayo] gone now, Courtney Lee is the next guy in line,” one NBA executive said according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald at Las Vegas summer league. “It’ll be interesting to see what kind of offers he gets. He’s obviously a free agent, but if someone wants to try to work out a way to get him more money, that’s going to be tough because Houston (played for them last year) is in such a crazy position now with the offer sheets to (Jeremy) Lin and (Omer) Asik.”
The problem the Celtics will face trying to add a guy of Lee’s caliber is they can only offer $1.975 million of their biannual salary cap exception in an attempt to sign him.
Future Of The Cavaliers Extremely Bright: The Cleveland Cavaliers have landed in the draft lottery the past two years and haven’t reached the playoffs since 2010, but the franchise appears to be positioned to get back into the postseason discussion much sooner than expected – thanks to their recent draft day moves.
Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 overall pick of the 2011 draft, believes the Cavaliers’ draft day moves over the last two has the team’s future forecast filled with tremendous upside.
“It’s real bright. It’s like 8 a.m. in the morning,” Thompson told HOOPSWORLD on the Cavs’ future outlook. “We’ve got two great pieces in Tyler [Zeller] and Dion [Waiters] to add with Kyrie [Irving] and me, so we’ve got fresh legs. We also have Andy (Anderson Varejao) who still plays like he’s 25 years old.”
Thompson is currently in Las Vegas playing with the Cavs’ summer league unit gaining experience, an opportunity he didn’t have last season because of the lockout. Thompson believes the competition faced in summer league is already paying off and helping him fine tune his skill set.
“It’s great,” Thompson said. “It’s the best basketball out right now, playing in summer league. It’s good to get up and down [the court] going against other pros and guys that are trying to get some jobs.”
Irving was expected to join Thompson this summer on the Cavs’ active roster but a broken hand suffered in team practice while preparing derailed those plans. The injury isn’t expected to sideline Irving for training camp and Thompson says that’s all that matters for the time being.
“It’s unfortunate but it’s the game of basketball,” Thompson said. “Injuries always pop up. He’s been working his butt off this summer and it is unfortunate he’s not able to showcase it to you guys [in summer league] but that’s why we have 82 games.”
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