George Karl’s short tenure with the Sacramento Kings ended at the end of last season after feuding with DeMarcus Cousins and a very public near-firing over the All-Star Break. So it was certainly interesting when Ty Lawson said he leaned on Karl’s positive review of the Kings franchise when deciding between signing with the Kings and New Orleans Pelicans this summer.
"I talked to him probably three or four times before I made the decision to come here. Just about the organization, how everything is. Even about DeMarcus. It wasn't really as bad as what everybody was saying,” Lawson said Monday during Kings media day. “He had good things to say about the organization and everybody so that's what made me ultimately choose Sacramento over New Orleans."
Lawson played under Karl for four season in Denver. He flourished under Karl so it would make sense for him to consult with his former coach about the decision. It’s a little odd that Karl would give a glowing review of the Kings franchise considering the chaos that seemed to ensue while he was at the helm in Sacramento, but I got the sense that he truly did enjoy his time with the Kings and wanted to make it work. The circumstances just weren’t ideal.
Lawson believes the circumstances are ideal for him in Sacramento. He certainly needs to get his career back on the right track. He saw his numbers take a dive after the 2014-15 season with the Nuggets when he averaged 15.2 points, 9.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds. He landed with the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers last season. He played in 53 games for the Rockets (averaging 5.8 points, 3.4 assists and 1.7 rebounds in 22 minutes per game) and in 13 games for the Pacers (averaging 4.9 points, 4.4 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 18 minutes per game). There was the “I’m going to Sacramento” video. And then in July 2015, he was arrested for the fourth time for a DUI. His battle with alcohol has been well documented.
After taking the advice of his former coach, Lawson is ready for a fresh start. He signed a one-year deal with the Kings and calls last season a “throw-away” year, a year that he says he has grown from and changed. Lawson admits his confidence was gone after his time with the Rockets and he had to go back and watch film of himself in the playoffs to prove to himself that it wasn’t a fluke. He says he’s ready now.
“I think I'm back to my rookie year right now. I've heard GMs say 'he lost a step' and everything, 'oh, he can't shoot no more.' I'm like it's only been a year. So I've just got a lot to prove and I've got a chip on my shoulder to prove it,” said Lawson, who was considering playing in China before he got the call from the Kings.
Kings head coach Dave Joerger said he is expecting a lot from Lawson, who will share backcourt duties with Darren Collison and Garrett Temple.
"I'm counting on Ty to be a pro. Important year for him, I have a lot of confidence in him so I'm looking forward to him playing well and being a leader for our team,” Joerger said.
Lawson was asked if he accepts that challenge.
“Yeah, definitely. Come out here just work hard, play hard and just lead by example, and I think it will show that I'm definitely the leader he's looking for,” he said.