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Ty Lawson allows final season of contract to become unguaranteed, puts $13,213,482 on the line

Los Angeles Lakers v Denver Nuggets

at Pepsi Center on April 8, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 119-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Doug Pensinger

Ty Lawson really wanted out of Denver.

The point guard, as a condition of his trade from the Nuggets to the Rockets, agreed to alter his contract.

Previously, he was owed $12,404,495 this season and $13,213,482 next season – both years guaranteed.

Zach Lowe of Grantland:

Trading for Lawson, who’s been arrested twice for DUI in the last six months, was already a risk worth taking for the Rockets. This news makes it an even better bet than previously thought.

If Lawson struggles this season – on or off the court – Houston can just waive him before the 2016-17 season begins with no cap hit.

It’s unclear whether Lawson got a guarantee date for that season. If he didn’t, the Rockets could use his contract as a major trade chip next summer if he’s not worth the money on the court. The Cavaliers are shopping Brendan Haywood’s deal the same way this summer, though such a contract has more value now before the salary cap shoots up. (Update: Lawson has a June guarantee date, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.)

More immediately, Lawson is betting on himself in a major way – and it might work.

I think his personal and professional issues are related. Lawson clearly hasn’t been happy with the Nuggets, and although that doesn’t excuse his actions, it might explain them. People are more likely to stay on the straight and narrow when the straight and narrow offers a fulfilling existence.

Simply, I think Lawson is more likely to stay sober when that means a spot on a high-end team than he was willing to stay sober for a spot on a lottery squad.

More than $13 million will only increase Lawson’s motivation.

This isn’t a silver bullet to getting Lawson healthy, but it gives him more incentive not to drink. He clearly sees the upside, too. He had to agree to reduce the protected compensation in his contract.

Lawson has talked about leaving Denver, avoiding legal troubles, being a good NBA citizen.

He just put his money where his mouth is.