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Nuggets, Lawson agree to four-year extension

By David Aldridge, TNT analyst
Posted Oct 30, 2012 3:41 PM - Updated Oct 30, 2012 9:43 PM

The Denver Nuggets kept guard Ty Lawson off the 2013 market Tuesday by agreeing with the fourth-year guard on a four-year, $48 million extension, according to league sources.

Lawson is only the second member of the 2009 Draft class to agree on an extension with his team before Wednesday's deadline for those fourth-year players to get new deals, though the Rockets have all but officially agreed to terms with newly acquired guard James Harden on a new contract. Harden was acquired from Oklahoma City Saturday in a multi-player deal, and is expected to be the Rockets' "designated player," eligible for a five-year extension for close to $80 million.

Lawson's emergence as one of the league's top young point guards, combined with Denver's recent history of locking up its young players to deals before they reach free agency, made a deal with the Nuggets likely. Since trading Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks in February, 2011, the Nuggets have given new deals to forward Danilo Gallinari (four years, $42 million), forward Wilson Chandler (five years, $37 million), center Kosta Koufos (three years, $9 million) and center JaVale McGee (four years, $44 million). They also gave guard Arron Afflalo a five-year extension for $37 million before sending him to Orlando as part of the four-team deal that brought Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia and sent Andrew Bynum from the Lakers to the 76ers.

Lawson, who will turn 25 later this week, has become one of the league's most dynamic point guards. He averaged 16.4 points and 6.6 assists last season, and his PER of 19.43 rated ninth among point guards. With Lawson pushing the ball Denver became a lethal transition team and adding Iguodala, one of the league's better on-ball perimter defenders and finishers on the wing, should make the Nuggets even more terrorizing in transition.

Lawson turned down a four-year offer worth $45 million earlier this month, according to league sources, but the decision paid off. With a $12 million average salary, Lawson will be one of the league's top paid point guards, making more money per year than Boston's Rajon Rondo, who is in the third year of his five-year, $55 million contract. Only Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul will make more this season among active point guards than Lawson.

The deal will be good news for Philadelphia's Jrue Holiday, another Class of 2009 member, whose talks with the 76ers have bogged down. If a deal can't be made with Philadelphia by Wednesday, Holiday would become a restricted free agent next summer and become eligible to sign an offer sheet with other teams. The 76ers could match the offer and retain him.

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