|Mug Shots Don't Help|
At this point, you should be wondering why anyone makes trades with Houston, given how badly Oklahoma City got taken by them in the James Harden deal. Because while this deal won't be as bad -- Lawson is, at his best, a top 10ish point guard, while Harden might be the premier off-guard in the world, and the clear MVP rummer-up last year -- it's going to be pretty bad. The Nuggets moved Lawson at the absolute nadir of his trade value, with a recent DUI and domestic abuse charge, and a terrible season that made it look like he's a world-class malcontent. (I'm not saying Denver was wrong to move him. I'm just saying they got squat for him.)
However, the Denver situation right now is that all talent has looked terrible, in a long slide from 50-win treadmill to the lottery part of town. Someone is going to make serious bank when they get Kenneth Faried, just the same way that the Thunder and Blazers have been all kinds of happy with Timofey Mozgov. Get Lawson in a situation where he's playing games that matter with teammates that aren't horrible, and you'll probably get yourself years of quiet citizenship. None of this nonsense was coming up when Denver was on the rise.
Anyway, let's get back to the Rockets. Lawson gives them an immediate offensive upgrade over Patrick Beverly, and a really nice spot-up shooter for Harden's forays to the hoop in draw and kick. He turns 28 this season, which means he's solidly in the prime of his career, a 37% shooter from the arc, and a guy who has been in the 3 to 4 to 1 assist to turnover ratio in the past few years. He's not a great defender, but it's not as if Jason Terry was shutting anyone down in his Rocket minutes, and he's been injury prone along with the DUI issues... but he's a solid scorer, a gifted passer, and downright explosive from time to time. He doesn't win the Conference Finals series for them against Golden State, but he helps, and at the position where they needed the most help, especially in the PG-stacked West.
As for Denver... I have no idea what they are doing here, other than shedding salary and assets for a dump that will get them into the high lottery. I understand that no one wants to be in the NBA Middle any more, but just picks would have been lots more valuable than this package, and keeping the man in conference just means that you'll get to see him kick your teeth in a lot. I have to think there were better packages out there, and on some level, dreamed of him coming to Philly and showing the locals what real point guard play looks like.
But at least Lawson's back in the actual NBA now.