J.R. “Earl” Smith “III”* returned to the Nuggets on Tuesday after serving a seven-game suspension to start the season for a reckless driving conviction. He played 29 minutes off the bench, managing just five points on 1-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes.
Smith’s performance wasn’t all that noteworthy except for the effect that it had on the minutes of rookie Ty Lawson, who scored eight points in 18 minutes. Lawson averaged 26 minutes through Denver’s first three games and more than 22 per minutes entering Tuesday’s game.
It’s a little too early to tell whether Lawson’s minutes will remain less than 20 minutes on a regular basis. But his value has been adversely affected by Smith’s return. He has managed just double digits in scoring once in the past five games and the probability of his reduced minutes plus the normal rookie inconsistencies are warning signs.
In all but keeper leagues, it’s time to cut ties with Lawson. If you’re in a league with a deep bench, holding on to Lawson in case of an injury to Smith or Chauncey Bullups may be wise.
* In all honesty, I think Smith’s decision to go by the moniker Earl Smith III is a huge improvement. Guys with abbreviated names are nothing but trouble. J.R. Rider, A.J. Pierzynski ….. um, B.J. Surhoff ….. F.P. Santangelo. You get the idea.