Lawson has spent this season in the Chinese Basketball Association with the Shandong Golden Stars where he averaged 25.5 points and 6.5 assists per game on 54.8 percent shooting from the field and 40.1 percent on threes.
According to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Wizards were reportedly interested in signing Lawson back in February, but wound up signing Ramon Sessions instead.
So why didn’t the Wizards sign him sooner? The Golden Stars’ season didn’t finish until Wednesday night, when they were eliminated in the CBA semifinals, which meant today was the first day Washington could sign him to a contract. Since Lawson didn’t play at all in the NBA this season, he is eligible to play for Washington in the playoffs, which begin on Saturday.
There’s no question this is a confusing signing, even once you understand the hurdles at play with Lawson’s contract in China. Clearly, the Wizards aren’t signing him to shore up depth at point guard. All four point guards they already had on the roster are healthy. So this signing can mean one of a few things:
The Wizards are simply honoring an agreement they had in place earlier - Clearly, the Wizards had interest in Lawson for some time. Perhaps they had already come to an understanding he’d sign in Washington after his time in China was over and they were betting things would end sooner so they could get him up to speed before the playoffs started. It might be too late for him to make a difference now, but it would be a bad look to back out if there was some sort of a standing offer out there.
Washington views this as more of a play for next season - By signing Lawson now, the Wizards get his non-Bird rights. That means they can offer him slightly more than the veteran’s minimum this summer in free agency. They could use this time to get him up to speed and see if he’s worth keeping around for next season. It would be like a test drive for the Wizards and an early enrollment for Lawson.
The Wizards really think he can make a difference in the playoffs - This would be wild, but don’t forget three years ago the Wizards won a second round game against the Hawks with Will Bynum on the floor for the closing minutes, so it wouldn’t be the first time they’ve turned to a very late season signing to make a contribution in the playoffs.
It’s hard to imagine Lawson being a better option than Tomas Satoransky at this point, but his presence would allow Satoransky to slide over to the wing, where he can supplant Jodie Meeks in the playoff rotation. Sato could also play the three a bit if Otto Porter’s calf issue lingers into the playoffs, although Ben Standig of The Sports Capitol is reporting Porter’s injury did not factor into the decision to sign Lawson. There’s also a chance he could play some minutes at Oubre’s spot if the Wizards are worried his shooting struggles will make it harder to get him on the floor against playoff defenses.
s, or he could take some of Kelly Oubre’s minutes if his shooting struggles make him harder to play against playoff defenses.
Again, crazier things have happened. We’ll get a much better sense of things on Saturday afternoon.