Apparently, Denver couldn’t flip Pablo Prigioni.
The Nuggets acquired the point guard in the Ty Lawson trade, but they didn’t really want him. They just needed Prigioni’s contract to facilitate the deal.
Prigioni was waived by Denver following the trade
The Nuggets will owe Prigioni just $440,00 of his $1,734,572 salary if he clears waivers.
But it’s not a lock Prigioni clears waivers. That price isn’t bad for a third point guard, and Prigioni is better than most third point guards. The 38-year-old doesn’t have any upside remaining, but that shouldn’t matter to teams ready to win now – a few of whom have cap room or trade exceptions that could fit Prigioni’s salary.
One example: The Nets, who bought out Deron Williams and traded Steve Blake. Jarrett Jack is line to start at point guard, and Shane Larkin offers decent potential behind him. Prigioni is more dependable – and likely better than anyone Brooklyn could get with the minimum-salary exception it has available. The Nets have a couple trade exceptions that could fit Prigioni’s contract.
They’re trying, Chauncey. They’re trying.
Turns out Chauncey Billups — the former NBA All-Star and Denver Nugget point guard, now an analyst with ESPN — is no Ty Lawson fan. Not that there are a lot of them in Denver right now. Billups was on 104.3 The Fan in Denver Thursday and said it was time for the Nuggets to move on from the Lawson era (hat tip Eye on Basketball for the transcription):
I mean, well, one, Ty, he has not demonstrated what you want from the leader of your team and a guy who they’ve handed the keys to. He’s not demonstrated the kind of leadership that you want. And you have a young kid named [Emmanuel] Mudiay coming in who I think has a chance to be a star in this league. Right now the best player on the team is Ty Lawson. As a young player in the league, you come in 19-20 years old, you oftentimes try to emulate some of the actions on the floor and off the floor of the best player because that’s one day what you want to be. So I think just from the standpoint of the welfare of Mudiay and the well-being and the growth of Mudiay, you have to get Ty Lawson and you have to move him along.
The point about wanting good examples for Emmanuel Mudiay is a good one — and Lawson’s video after the Nuggets drafted Mudiay is a perfect example of why Denver would want to move him. Lawson had issues such as being late to a practice after the All-Star break, plus Denver had hoped he would be a leader and instead they had real chemistry issues with him in that role last year.
The problem is, Denver has tried to trade him. There just isn’t much of a market right now.
There were talks with the Dallas Mavericks, but those fizzled out, and Dallas now has Deron Williams in house. Denver has shopped Lawson around (as well as other players, they are ready for a roster shakeup) but have not found a deal worth their liking. The challenge is the league is deep with point guards right now so the options are limited — and the teams looking for point guards know that. It’s simple economics, there is more supply than demand.
But expect Denver to try hard to find Lawson a new home before the season starts. Something that would make Denver native Billups happy.
Rule number one of trade leverage: Don’t look eager to make a move. Pretend you’re not interested at all.
That could be what is going on here with the Brooklyn Nets.
Or, maybe the report from ESPN’s Marc Stein is accurate — maybe now, after buying out and waiving Deron Williams thereby dramatically lowering their payroll, the Nets have no intention of trading Joe Johnson.
That last part is true, the Nets have no lottery pick to tank for. With Johnson, plus the re-signed Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young, they stand a legitimate chance of making the playoffs in the East. They are not going to challenge Cleveland for supremacy, or frankly even Chicago/Washington/Miami/Atlanta for that second tier. But they could get an invite to the dance.
Still, this is in a rebuilding mode, just one with a couple of key pieces in place. Johnson is not part of the long-term future, and if a team offers the right combination of picks and players to move that rebuilding along faster, the Nets have to strongly consider it. That may not happen with his steep price tag, but it’s possible an offer comes because this is the last year of his deal.
The Nets just don’t want to look eager.