SACRAMENTO -- Cut day came and went in Sacramento without any major surprises. That is, unless you consider veteran point guard Ty Lawson’s inclusion as a shock. Lawson is packed with talent, but he’s struggled to stay out of his own way over the last few seasons, including a missed flight to Kentucky earlier in the preseason.
It was fitting that the seven-year NBA vet joined the media for a chat after practice on Monday. While it was a forgone conclusion that Lawson would make the roster for the better part of two weeks, he came into camp in a fight with four other players for the 15th and final spot.
“It’s tough, it’s been a month, we’ve grown a bond with each other,” Lawson said of cut day. “We’ve been playing with each, practicing with each other, just getting to know everybody. Cut day is always the toughest.”
Now that he’s assured a roster spot, it’s go time for Lawson. The 28-year-old lead guard is trying to resurrect his career in Sacramento. He’ll get an 8-game run as the starter while Darren Collison sits out.
“I’m ready to go, games start tomorrow, our first game is Wednesday, you know, the season’s here,” Lawson said. “Go hard or go home, I’m excited.”
After playing sparingly down the stretch last season for the Indiana Pacers, Lawson will be counted on to play huge minutes early on. He’ll have Garrett Temple backing him up, but the focus will be on the speedy guard out of North Carolina.
“I’m going hard in practice to get my wind up,” Lawson said. “Coach is telling me I’m going to play a lot of minutes - 30 to 40.”
With Lawson in, that means that three other players are out. Jordan Farmar, Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson received pink slips on Monday. It’s never an easy time in the NBA world as players of all ages are faced with their NBA mortality.
“We have a full roster, it’s pretty difficult (to make the team),” coach Joerger said. “Guys are doing it for different reasons - to get experience, to get exposure back to the league, to get familiarity with our organization and with what we’re doing here.”
It appears that Farmar came into camp as Plan B, incase Lawson wasn’t up for the task. He performed well in his limited time off the Kings’ bench and he could become an option down the road if Sacramento is in the market for a seasoned NBA guard with 3-point shooting skills.
As for the Kings’ two young players, both Isaiah Cousins and Lamar Patterson are eligible to join Sacramento’s D-League affiliate in Reno if they choose to join the NBA’s minor league program.
Taken with the 59th pick in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft, Cousins is a big physical guard that might find success with the Bighorns under head coach Darrick Martin. He can play both the one and the two, but it was clear early on that he was lost in a numbers game.
After four seasons at Oklahoma, Cousins has the physical maturity to play at the NBA level, but he needs more seasoning. When Sacramento waived him, they gave up his rights after signed him to a partially guaranteed deal over the summer. If he goes unclaimed over the next 48 hours, he will decide between playing overseas or joining the D-League.
Patterson is an interesting player. The 25-year-old wing has already experienced the D-League, playing 19 games last season between the Austin Spurs and the Canton Charge. Patterson posted 12.8 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game in his two stops.
He was waived on Wednesday by Sacramento, but resigned on Friday afternoon, which helped the Kings retain his D-League rights moving forward.
The Kings will practice one more time on Tuesday before boarding a plane for Phoenix in the afternoon. They’ll face a young Suns team on Wednesday night in their opener, followed by a the first official game in the Golden 1 Center against the Spurs on Thursday night. Preseason is officially over and now it gets real for a newly formed team looking to get off to a fast start.