Nuggets overhaul roster just ahead of NBA trade deadline
AP Sports Writer
DENVER — Ty Lawson missed one practice because of flight issues, and his team looked much different when he got back to Denver.
The point guard returned to the court Thursday just as guard Arron Afflalo and backup forward Alonzo Gee headed out of town in a trade with Portland, and center JaVale McGee made his way to Philadelphia in another deal.
Lawson now has the task of meshing all the new players together. That is, once he gets out of Brian Shaw’s doghouse. The coach was none too pleased with Lawson for missing his flight and the first practice back from the All-Star break the day before. Some sort of punishment could be coming.
“Internally, we’ll decide what to do,” Shaw said before the Nuggets caught a plane to Milwaukee for their game Friday night. “He wasn’t here. Everybody else was. I have to set the tone for what happens in that kind of situation.”
The trade deadline played out pretty much like everyone expected: Afflalo was dealt, and Wilson Chandler was mentioned in other possible deals, but ultimately stayed in Denver.
However, Lawson found himself mentioned in swirling speculation, even more after missing Wednesday’s practice.
“Always during the trade deadline, your name pops up somewhere,” Lawson said. “I kind of expected it.”
Only, he wasn’t going anywhere — just back to the Mile High City from Las Vegas, the place where he was stranded.
“I told (Shaw) what happened. He’s cool with it,” Lawson said. “Keep moving forward, try to get more wins and keep playing hard.”
Wins have been hard to come by in Shaw’s second season in charge. The team is 20-33 this season and a long, long way back from the final playoff spot.
It started last month when the team traded center Timofey Mozgov to Cleveland for two first-round picks.
On Thursday, Denver sent Afflalo and Gee to the Trail Blazers for Thomas Robinson, Victor Claver, Will Barton and a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2016. It also dealt McGee, a protected 2015 first-round pick and the draft rights for Chukwudiebere Maduabum to Philadelphia.
By trading the often-injured McGee, the Nuggets cleared a hefty salary from the books.
Oh, and for good measure, Denver also signed rookie forward Joffrey Lauvergne. The 23-year-old native of France has been playing in the Russian Super League.
Quite a bit of change for one day.
“You’re excited for the new players to come in, to see what they can bring to the table,” Lawson said.
Who knows, maybe a late push?
“It’s tough to say you’re fighting for a playoff position, because we’re kind of out of that,” Chandler said. “Just get better as individuals, whether it’s physically, mentally, your game, health, whatever it is. Try to get better as teammates with guys who are here.”
These types of moves at the trade deadline weren’t exactly the ones general manager Tim Connelly was hoping to make. He’d rather bolster his squad than blow it up. Still, this buys some flexibility down the road.
“I wish we were sitting on our hands right now, talking about a team firmly entrenched on top of our division,” Connelly said. “Try to make best of a bad situation. We traded away three real pros.”
Now, they’ll see how everything works out with this crew.
“With the new guys coming aboard, it’s a fresh start for them, in a new city with new teammates,” Shaw said. “We have to get to know them pretty fast and they need to get to know us.
“It’s the nature of the business. The only thing you can control is what you do on the floor.”
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