With Patrick Beverley re-signed and Lawson used to playing starter’s minutes, will Morey reenact Tom Hanks’ famous, “Houston, we have a problem” line from Apollo 13 at some point next season? Time will tell.
You hear the phrase all the time: “Don’t drink and drive.”
Unfortunately, Lawson never got the memo in Denver. After a second DUI arrest in seven months, his trade value took a serious hit.
The Nuggets traded Lawson to the Rockets, along with a 2017 second-round draft pick, in exchange for Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson and a lottery-protected 2016 first-round draft pick.
Prigioni is expected to be waived on Monday since his contract is only partially guaranteed for next season.
Denver drafted Emmanuel Mudiay seventh overall in the draft and is poised to hand him the keys to the franchise with Jameer Nelson serving as his mentor in a backup role. Mudiay should now compete for Rookie of the Year with a profound role heading into his freshman NBA campaign.
To help Lawson get his life together and succeed in Houston, the Rockets hope to pair him with life coach John Lucas, ESPN reports. Lucas has a previous track record of helping players with issues off the court.
Lawson is on the books for $12.4 million this season. As part of the trade agreement, Lawson will make the final year of his deal ($13.2 million) non-guaranteed for the following season, Grantland reports.
The teams still lurking out there with major cap space are the Portland Trail Blazers, whose offer sheet for Enes Kanter was matched by Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia, who is interested in a certain point guard on this list who is coming off his best season as a pro.
With that in mind, here are the best remaining available players in free agency:
1. Kevin Seraphin, C, Wizards (Unrestricted): Probably the third-best French center in the NBA, depending on the relative merits of Alexis Ajinca. No question he is half the player that Rudy Gobert is. He averaged 12 minutes per game in the postseason, backing up Marcin Gortat. The five-year veteran had his best season in his sophomore campaign and has flatlined since. But he is 25 years old, so his long-term upside is still untapped. He’d like the opportunity to start. JULY 4 UPDATE: His friendship with new Clipper Paul Pierce could be a factor is getting him to Los Angeles as DeAndre Jordan’s replacement, but Paul Allen’s wallet could get him to Portland as Chris Kaman’s running mate. JULY 5 UPDATE: Marc Spears of Yahoo says Lakers, Wizards, Suns and Spurs in the mix. JULY 7 UPDATE: Keep an eye on the Clippers, who were linked to Seraphin by Dan Woike at the start of free agency. They still need a center to help replace the departed Jordan. UPDATE II: The Mavericks have expressed interest in Seraphin, a league source tells SheridanHoops. JULY 9 UPDATE: Wizards are conducting business as though they expect Seraphin to move on, the Washington Post reports. JULY 12 UPDATE: Wizards, Lakers and Mavericks have shown interest in Seraphin, Yahoo reports.
2. JaVale McGee, C, Sixers (Unrestricted): This is a guy who was traded to Philadelphia so that Sam Hinkie could get to the salary floor. He was waived without a buyout. As of now, he is the highest-paid player on the Sixers’ roster for next season at $12 million, and there is no doubt he will join Josh Smith as a double-dipper (a player receiving paychecks from two teams). There is no getting away from the fact that he has underachieved throughout his career, and as a double-dipper, he may not be motivated to change. A major risk/reward guy who could go boom or bust depending on who signs him. JULY 4 UPDATE: Doc Rivers placed a phone call to McGee, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Also, George Karl likes him, so if DeMarcus Cousins gets moved, he can become a tutor to Willie Cauley-Stein and a cohort of Rajon Rondo. JULY 5 UPDATE: With the Lakers having acquired Roy Hibbert and the Kings getting Koufos, this could be a two-horse race between the Clippers and the Blazers. Then again, there are other teams with more cap space than the Clippers who could pad McGee’s bank account. JULY 6 UPDATE: See Seraphin. In a thin free agent market for centers at a discounted price, McGee is an option for the Clippers. JULY 13 UPDATE: Dallas had emerged as a potential suitor for McGee, but there are concerns over his health. He has played only 28 games over the past two seasons.
3. Tristan Thompson, F, Cavaliers (Restricted): He turned down a four-year, $52 million contract extension in October. Counting all options and qualifying offers, the Cavs already are on the hook for over $100 million in salaries next season. It’s hard to imagine GM David Griffin maxing out Love and giving $13 million annually to Thompson, who threatens a double-double every night and more than adequately replaced Love in the rotation during the latter stages of the playoffs. Griffin could allow another team to set the market or simply play a little hardball, which would make Thompson unrestricted in 2016. That might be a mistake, too, given that Thompson and LeBron James share the same agent, Rich Paul. JULY 1 UPDATE: Safe to say he made the right move turning down that $52 million extension offer in October. The Cavaliers and Thompson reportedy agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal. JULY 2 UPDATE: Thompson and the Cavs “are still apart” on contract talks, Brian Windhorst tweeted. But it’s almost certain he’ll return to Cleveland. JULY 5 UPDATE: Agent Rich Paul, who also represents LeBron James, wants the Thompson deal done before any talks on James can begin. JULY 6 UPDATE: Dialogue is ongoing, but getting nowhere, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports. JULY 9 UPDATE: Thompson and the Cavaliers are not close to a deal despite the LeBron agreement. The two are “not a package,” a source told ESPN. JULY 12 UPDATE: Cavaliers general manager David Griffin recently said, “We really like him. I think we’ll end up getting something done.” JULY 18 UPDATE: Thompson posted a photo on Instagram saying, “Always good seeing my brother @kevinlove. It’s never a dull moment with this guy!!” Certainly doesn’t seem like a post from a guy who will be leaving Cleveland anytime soon.
4. J.R. Smith, G, Cavaliers (Unrestricted): When we first published this summer’s rankings, we wrote this: “He would be crazy to opt out, given his $6.4 million number for next season, the Cavs’ preoccupation with retaining Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, and the fact that the light bulb is never really going to come on.” So much for expecting Smith to do the sane thing. While a half-season alongside LeBron James seemed to calm him down a bit, his two-game playoff suspension proved that he is a cheetah who isn’t changing his spots. He’s had his moments in the playoffs, especially in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta, but he is the epitome of a faulty faucet — nobody runs more hot and cold. He would have been much better off minding his P’s and Q’s for another season and hitting a fertile market next summer. JULY 2 UPDATE: With Iman Shumpert getting $40 million for four years, how high will Dan Gilbert allow his luxury tax bill to climb? That will be a factor in whether Smith stays or goes. JULY 7 UPDATE: Despite adding Mo Williams, the Cavaliers are intent on keeping Smith and Matthew Dellavedova, ESPN reports. JULY 12: Cavaliers general manager David Griffin made it clear he would like to retain Smith. JULY 18 UPDATE: Cleveland wasn’t thrilled Smith turned down his player option for this summer according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Former Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks also weighed in on Smith’s decision.
5. Carlos Boozer, F, Lakers (Unrestricted): At this point in his career, his starting days are behind him. Boozer’s most effective role would be a scoring big man off the bench used in pick-and-roll sets with the ability to stretch the defense from 18-feet out. The biggest knock on Boozer is his inability to provide much rim protection. JULY 6 UPDATE: Boozer has received interest from the Clippers, Spurs, Mavericks and Raptors. JULY 7 UPDATE: With the Spurs adding David West, Boozer’s chances of landing with San Antonio decreased. UPDATE II: Boozer and the Clippers have mutual interest, L.A. Times reports. JULY 13 UPDATE: Boozer has received interest from the Clippers, Spurs, Mavericks, Raptors, Knicks and Nuggets, a league source tells SheridanHoops.
6. Matthew Dellavedova, G, Cavaliers (Restricted): LeBron James described him as basically the most feisty player on the team, which is quite an endorsement. He showed his value — and David Griffin’s skill in assembling a roster full of quality, capable backups — by filling in for Kyrie Irving at the end of the second round vs. Chicago, during the conference finals against Atlanta, and in Games 2-6 of the Finals. He is smart, defends like a puppy nipping at your ankles and is fearless. JULY 3 UPDATE: Dellavedova and the Cavaliers are progressing on a multi-year contract in the $3-5 million range, RealGM reports. JULY 6 UPDATE: Cavaliers remain intent on keeping Dellavedova. JULY 12 UPDATE: GM David Griffin stressed he wants to retain him.JULY 15 UPDATE: Dellavedova was named to Australia’s squad for the FIBA Oceania Championship.
7. Andre Miller, G, Kings (Unrestricted): Miller is like that old man in the park, he’s not flashy, but you want him on your team because he gets the job done. He was reunited with his former coach George Karl in Sacramento, one of his biggest supporters over the years. Miller is a proven playoff veteran who averaged 14 points per game during the 2013 playoffs with the Nuggets under Karl. JULY 7 UPDATE: At 39, Miller would like to continue his NBA career, Bleacher Report says. July 9 UPDATE: Miller and the Kings have spoken, according to The Sacramento Bee.
8. Norris Cole, G Pelicans (Restricted): Cole played the best basketball of his career in New Orleans after being acquired in a trade. Cole averaged 9.9 points and shot 44 percent from the field overall and 38 percent from downtown in 28 games. With Jrue Holiday an injury risk, Cole is a quality backup point guard who can provide defensive energy and scoring when called upon. JULY 10 UPDATE: The Pelicans are holding out hope they can retain Cole, Nola.com reports. JULY 14 UPDATE: The Philadelphia 76ers have expressed interest in Cole, a league source tells SheridanHoops.
9. Jason Terry, G, Rockets (Unrestricted): How much more fuel does “Jet” have left? At 37, Terry is in the twilight of his career but still showed signs of being a productive bench player. Terry averaged 7.0 points per game and shot 39 percent from beyond the arc in 77 games (18 starts) for the Rockets last season. JULY 6 UPDATE: Dallas reached out to Terry about a possible reunion, The Dallas Morning News reports. JULY 13 UPDATE: Terry and the Rockets are progressing on a deal to retain the veteran guard, RealGM reports. JULY 19 UPDATE: Terry’s chances of returning to the Rockets have increased with the Ty Lawson trade, ESPN reports.
10. Nate Robinson, G, Clippers (Unrestricted): Robinson was slowed by a knee injury during his brief stint with the Clippers. When healthy, Robinson can pack energy and a scoring punch off the bench as he did for the Bulls during the 2013 playoffs, averaging 16.3 points per game. JULY 13 UPDATE: If put in the right situation with a veteran team and a strong locker room, his scoring talent off the bench can be a huge plus.
The Next Five: Chris Copeland, Pacers (Unrestricted); Michael Beasley, Heat (Unrestricted); Tyler Hansbrough, Raptors (Unrestricted); Reggie Evans, Kings (Unrestricted); Glen Davis, Clippers (Unrestricted).