Report: Nuggets considering waiving Ty Lawson

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Ty Lawson thought the Nuggets would trade him.

Now, after his second DUI arrest in the last six months, they might take an even more drastic step.

Mitch Lawrence of NBC New York:

https://twitter.com/Mitch_Lawrence/status/621061780647718912

Of course, the Nuggets would prefer to trade him. But I’m not sure they can deal him without adding a sweetener. So, waiving him might be their next option.

But Lawson has a guaranteed contract. It’s nearly impossible seeing Denver getting out of the $25,617,977 he’s owed.

The key question is how the Nuggets would handle waiving him, whether they’d use the stretch provision and when. Here are the cap hits they’d face in each scenario:

2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
No stretch $12,404,495 $13,213,482
Stretch by Aug. 31 $5,123,595 $5,123,595 $5,123,595 $5,123,595 $5,123,595
Stretch after Aug. 31 $12,404,495 $4,404,494 $4,404,494 $4,404,494

Stretching Lawson’s remaining salary now would free nearly $7.3 million in cap space, but it’s hard to see how Denver would use that effectively. Most good free agents are already off the market. I’d rather pay more in what is shaping up to be a rebuilding year anyway and reduce long-term consequences.

Waiving him come September makes some sense, though the Nuggets already project to have plenty of cap space in 2016. And so will practically every other team, which will make it hard for Denver to compete for free agents.

That leaves waiving him without the stretch provision as potentially the most appealing method dropping him. In that case, if I were the Nuggets, I’d think strongly about keeping Lawson on the roster. They don’t have to have him around the team, which should limit his toxicity. But that route would give him a chance to get his personal and professional life in order. If Denver is going pay him the same amount over the next two years regardless, I think I’d rather have Lawson and hope he figures everything out than an additional roster spot. Who can the Nuggets sign who has a great chance of long-term success? Lawson, at his best, has proven to be only one notch below All-Star level.

For that same reason, I wouldn’t completely rule out a team with cap space – 76ers? – taking a chance by claiming Lawson on waivers. If there are multiple teams that would do that, maybe Denver can leverage a trade.

The Nuggets should know more about the situation than I do, but I think keeping Lawson and hoping for the best – even if that means banishing him from the facility for now – makes most sense.