Ty Lawson’s stint with the Sacramento Kings is off to a troubling start.
Lawson, who has a history of alcohol issues, missed a team flight last week after a night of partying in Las Vegas. Video footage published by TMZ shows Lawson in a nightclub with teammates Ben McLemore and Willie Cauley-Stein late Thursday, hours before the Friday morning flight to Kentucky.
ESPN reported Lawson also was late to a shootaround during the Kings’ stay in Sin City.
Lawson’s agent told TMZ he had permission from the Kings to miss the flight due to a “personal issue,” though that doesn’t completely jibe with general manager Vlade Divac’s statements Monday about needing to meet with Lawson to get an explanation before clearing the 28-year-old to rejoin the team.
“We handled it [inside] the house,” Divac said via ESPN. “He got the message, and we move forward.”
Lawson signed a one-year, non-guaranteed deal (worth the veteran’s minimum) with Sacramento in August. The club hoped the veteran could be a stable fill-in as starting point guard Darren Collison begins the season — the Kings open next Wednesday — serving an eight-game NBA suspension.
But it was a gamble given Lawson’s record of alcohol abuse. Lawson has been arrested on four separate occasions dating back to 2008, when he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence while still underage to legally drink. After being cited for careless driving and driving with a restricted license in 2012, he was arrested a year later after authorities responded to a domestic violence call in Arapahoe County, Colo. He was arrested twice in 2015, his latest on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Denver Nuggets president Josh Kroenke had claimed Lawson sometimes smelled of alcohol at practice.
“Ty … there were times when he was better than others. But the problems have been there for several years, going back to when we were having a lot of on-court success,”Kroenke told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t want to go back too far. There were just a lot of times where you were at practice and you just know. You could smell it. You know there is probably a deeper issue than he would probably let on.”
Lawson was traded to the Houston Rockets in July 2015 after six seasons with the Nuggets.