Ty Lawson has found a new home with the Indiana Pacers.
According to NBA.com, Lawson, who was waived from the Houston Rockets on March 1, has officially signed with the team, although specific terms of the deal have not been released.
The 5-11, 195-pound guard is in his seventh year in the NBA now with his third different team. He played his first six seasons with Denver before Houston acquired him last summer. He nearly averaged career lows in points and assists with the Rockets in 53 games this season before they waived him last week.
By acquiring Lawson, the Pacers add depth and speed to a backcourt that includes George Hill, Monta Ellis, and Rodney Stuckey, who was recently reactivated by the team after missing 19 games with an injured right foot.
The Rockets signed Lawson last summer with the hopes that the true point guard would be a key distributor in their high-scoring, 3-point-heavy offense. The experiment turned out to be a bust, though, partly due to James Harden‘s league-leading 407 isolations plays. With Harden mostly dominating the ball, Lawson averaged only 3.4 assists for the Rockets this season, his lowest total since his rookie year in 2009-2010.
Another strike Lawson had against him were his problems off of the court. Since entering the league, he has been suspended four times for driving under the influence of alcohol. Two of those DUIs occurred this season, resulting in 2 and 3 game suspensions, respectively.
The Pacers, however, are obviously willing to take the risk, and believe that the ability Lawson showcased during his tenure with the Denver Nuggets, where he averaged 15.2 points and 9.6 assists there his final season, will pay off come the playoffs and beyond.
President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird voiced his optimism Monday despite Lawson’s problems on and off of the court this season.
“We’re glad to have Ty come play with the Pacers for this final run of the season. We think he brings added speed to our backcourt, he can get up and down the floor and he helps strengthen our second unit.”
Bird had been pushing for a true point guard for some time, but needed to create an open roster spot for Lawson. The move was made on March 1, when the Pacers announced Chase Budinger’s release. Budinger played in 49 games for the Pacers after he was acquired from Minnesota in a trade last July. His buyout makes him available to sign with any team, and the Suns are reportedly at the top of the list.
The timing of the deal was also carefully crafted, as well. Since Budinger remained with the team after the March 1 eligibility deadline, he won’t be eligible in the playoffs. Lawson, however, was waived by the Rockets just before the deadline, making him a viable weapon for the remainder of the season and into the Pacers’ playoff push.
With 19 games remaining on the regular season schedule, the challenge now is for head coach Frank Vogel to find a rotation that works with the new roster. He’ll have his work cut out for him. The Pacers still have ten teams over.500 left on their schedule, including NBA elites San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, and the Toronto Raptors. The good news is that out of the final 13 games, only 3 of them are against teams with winning records.
It will definitely be a challenge for Lawson to come in and make a solid contribution so late in the season, but clearly it’s what he needed to jumpstart his career.
“This is a good opportunity for me to come here, try to help the Pacers win and get into the playoffs,” he said on Monday. “I’m just ready to play and do whatever is needed.”
[Photo by Rick Scuteri/AP Images]