Monday 24th June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Rockets Consulted with Harden, D12 Before Trading for Ty Lawson

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It’s good to know that Daryl Morey always has James Harden and Dwight Howard on his mind.

Well, maybe not always. But certainly before he pulls off a blockbuster trade, like the one he brokered Sunday night, when he acquired embattled Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets for a lottery-protected first-round pick in 2016 and salary-cap fodder.

Before he snagged Lawson, though, Morey apparently consulted his two cornerstones, according to ESPN.com’s Calvin Watkins:

This is clearly the right thing to do—specifically with regard to Harden.

Howard can become a free agent after next season and is fast-approaching his 30th birthday. He is not the Rockets’ primal cornerstone. That’s Harden, the MVP runner-up. There’s no need to consult Howard. Plus, Lawson is a skilled point guard with whom he can run pick-and-roll, so Howard shouldn’t have any bones about his arrival.

It’s Harden that Morey and the Houston Rockets must worry about.

Worry is kind-of-sort-of a strong word here. Maybe too strong. But Harden is the one impacted most by Lawson’s arrival because it takes the ball out of his hands. He was basically the Rockets’ point shooting forward last season. Now he and Lawson must figure out how to play off one another when neither of them is especially good at working off the ball.

Lawson’s catch-and-shoot numbers over the last couple seasons are adequate. Not great, but good enough:

Those numbers should go up since the degree of difficult on Lawson’s shots beside will go down, but it’s still an adjustment, and it’s one that’ll take time to perfect.

There’s also the fact that Harden isn’t used to playing off the rock these days. He did it a ton while with the Oklahoma City Thunder, but that was three seasons ago, and even then, he wasn’t a spot-up-shooting superhero.

Last season, he drilled 39.4 percent of his catch-and-shoot opportunities, per NBA.com. That number climbed above 40 percent when he fired away from beyond the arc, so there’s that. But, like Lawson, he’ll need to figure out how to remain effective, how to remain his MVP-self, while ceding touches to another playmaker.

This is a good problem to have, make no mistake. But it is still a problem and will remain one even if Kevin McHale decides to stagger Harden’s and Lawson’s minutes as much as possible.

More importantly, though, it’s a good problem that Harden has, presumably, agreed to try and solve.

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