9:22pm: Lawson has officially been waived, the team announced.
7:21am: The Rockets and Ty Lawson have a deal on a buyout, reports international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). The point guard will still be eligible to take part in the playoffs for another team if he formally hits waivers today.
The prospect of a buyout seemed unlikely this weekend, even as the sides were reportedly exploring the idea, with Lawson apparently having indicated a desire to stay in Houston until season’s end. Instead, it looks like he’s headed elsewhere and is giving up a portion of his more than $12.404MM salary to do so. It’s a sharp turn of events from the summer, when the Happy Walters client forfeited the guarantee on next season’s salary to facilitate the trade that sent him from the Nuggets to the Rockets, but little has gone right for Houston this season, and Lawson is averaging a career-low 5.8 points per game in a reserve role. His assists per game have gone from 9.6 last year to 3.4 this year.
It’s unclear just how much Lawson is giving up for the chance to join another team, but the buyout will push the Rockets farther away from their $88.74MM hard cap. They’re only about $524K shy of it for now, keeping them from spending all of the nearly $900K in exception money they still have. It’ll also give the team a second opening on the roster. Houston, already with one vacancy in the wake of Marcus Thornton‘s release, reportedly has some level of interest in Chris Copeland, though a reunion with buyout candidate Kevin Martin is unlikely.
The Jazz appeared to have interest in Lawson amid the trade talks they reportedly engaged in with the Rockets before the deadline, and the Knicks apparently spoke with the Rockets about trading for Lawson, too. The market for Lawson appeared slow early this season, but his appeal figures to be greater now that he’ll be available much more cheaply.
Reports throughout the day provided sometimes conflicting information about whether Lawson and the Rockets had reached a buyout. League sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports a few hours after Pick’s report that the sides were still talking about a buyout but hadn’t struck an agreement yet (Twitter link). Walters confirmed this to Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (on Twitter). Wojnarowski later tweeted that the sides were getting closer but a hurdle remained. Sources told both Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and Calvin Watkins of ESPN.com minutes later that the sides had struck a buyout agreement (Twitter links). Wojnarowski clarified that a framework of the buyout was in place and that the deal would become final today once the documentation was finished (Twitter links).