Set to clear waivers on Thursday after coming to terms on a contract buyout with the Houston Rockets, soon-to-be free agent point guard Ty Lawson has drawn serious interest from the Indiana Pacers, reports Yahoo's Shams Charania.
Free-agent guard Ty Lawson is in strong discussions on a possible deal with the Indiana Pacers, league sources tell The Vertical.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) March 3, 2016
Having spent the first six years of his career with the Denver Nuggets, the beleaguered guard was expected to lighten James Harden's load as a distributor when he arrived in Houston. But that very quickly turned out to be a failed thought experiment. Per NBA.com's Player Tracking, Harden leads the league in total time of possession (336 minutes) among non-point guards while scoring or assisting on 46.3 points per game. With the former MVP candidate clearly more potent with the basketball than without, Lawson was soon supplanted to the reserve lineup, where he averaged career-lows in points (5.8), assists (3.4) and field-goal percentage (38.7%).
Though far from producing at the same level as he did in Denver, there are still a few numbers which support signing the guard the Indiana Pacers once passed over in the 2009 NBA Draft, even if it means waiving a member of the 15-man roster.
24: The number of games Rodney Stuckey has missed this season. If prior injury is, in fact, the number one predictor of future injury, then adding another capable guard for the stretch run of the season may not be a bad idea. As it stands now, George Hill, Monta Ellis, and Stuckey are combining to average 93.4 of the 96 possible back court minutes per game in a staggered rotation. Adding Lawson to the mix would provide head coach Frank Vogel with the flexibility to remove Hill from the increasingly exclusive 35-minute per game club and rely more heavily on all-reserve lineups when needed.
49.4:Indiana's assist percentage with Joe Young on the court, better than only Solomon Hill. The most-used all-reserve lineup with Young at the helm assists on 42.9 percent of field-goals, the Pacers overall assist on 53.9 percent. That particular group's lack of assists can in part be attributed to their lack of offense, given that they only score 90.1 points per 100 possessions. But, it also speaks to Joe Young's overall need for his play making skills to catch up to his scoring ability, if he is going to earn regular minutes as the team's backup point guard moving forward. Prone to dribbling into traps and struggling to make the right pass as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, Young has created 106 points off assists in 33 games. Ty Lawson? 435 in 53 with the Rockets.
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Lawson has yet to show himself to be the lightning quick driver and dynamic distributor he was in Denver, where he ranked third in the league in assists during the 2014-15 season. But away from the Rockets, where he was miscast as the eventual off-ball guard slotted next to James Harden and tasked with delivering lob passes to Dwight Howard, maybe he could more closely resemble the player who once thrived penetrating the lane and drawing the attention of opposing defenses before hitting crashing big men, not unlike those on Indiana's roster, with drop passes at the rim.
Moving forward with only three playoff tested guards, when one has missed significant time with a foot injury and another has been noticeably bothered by an elbow strain, is likely more of a gamble for the Indiana Pacers than taking a flyer on Ty Lawson.