The Denver Nuggets' extremely disappointing 2014-15 season hit a new low on Wednesday after a report that point guard Ty Lawson, the team's best player, had missed practice. While players sometimes can't make it to team functions for perfectly good reasons, Lawson does not seem to have apprised the Nuggets of his absence beforehand.
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Lawson was coming from Las Vegas, where the day before he posted a picture of himself on Facebook. Nuggets coach Brian Shaw was not happy with the unexcused absence.
"We had a week off or nine days between games, and you expect everybody to be here," Shaw said. "It disrupts the planning of everything, in terms of you count on somebody in practice. But he's not here so we had to go without him." [...]
Lawson is the Nuggets best player, their most productive player, but he has trouble throughout his career staying on the right track. Shaw didn't know Lawson wasn't in the building until the players reported to the practice court and Lawson failed to show. He had not contacted the team telling them he would be a no-show.
Lawson posted to Instagram soon after to explain his absence:
Travel plans got derailed ....but I'm always ready to go war with my bros... I know the season hasn't gone the we all wanted to but I'm a nugget until the day I die #nuggetsnation #letthehatecommentspileup
Lawson's absence came just one day before Thursday's trade deadline, which could see him traded. According to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, Lawson is on the block, with Brian Shaw having identified Indiana Pacers guard George Hill as his preferred replacement. Shaw coached Hill as an assistant before taking the Nuggets job, but the preference only really makes sense in the context of the franchise's ongoing issues with Lawson. At the same time, Shaw doesn't appear to be long for the job, and the idea that the Nuggets front office would allow him to influence personnel decisions seems like a case of mistaken priorities.
It's unclear if Lawson's inability to make it to Wednesday's practice was on honest mistake or relates to bigger issues, but it does not come at a great time for Denver. The Nuggets appear in crisis — Shaw has wondered out-loud (with some amount of seriousness) if the team is trying to lose and said that he's read books about millennials to try to relate to his players. On the court, the Nuggets look like a team without a coherent plan or any idea how to put players in the best positions to succeed, which is problematic given that the roster isn't that different from the squad that George Karl guided to the third-best regular-season record in the West just two seasons ago.
Whatever the reason, we know that the Nuggets now have to deal with another issue, one that involves the team leader in scoring and assists (in which he's also tied for the NBA lead with John Wall). Things are only getting worse, and it's an open question as to when the men in charge will decide they're better off selling off assets and remaking the Nuggets entirely.
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