Playing for his ninth team in his ninth NBA season, Shaun Livingston has been all but a journeyman over the course of his professional career at this point. It’s a far cry from what some may have envisioned when the 6’7 point guard was selected fourth overall in the 2004 NBA Draft, ahead of future All-Stars Devin Harris, Luol Deng, and Andre Iguodala. Now 28-years-old, the Peoria native finds himself in a ‘renaissance’ season, being a mainstay in Jason Kidd‘s rotation and starting for the playoff-bound Nets. As much as he feels loyalty to the coach and organization that helped revive his NBA career, Livingston – who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer – tells Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that he’ll place a priority on his long-term security above all:
“(My enjoyment with Brooklyn and how I fit) definitely plays a factor. You have to weigh your situations, your options. The reason I’m in a situation where I can demand a contract is because I’m playing for this team, this coach, this system…I realize that and I’m not over my head. But at the same time, it’s a business. You have to look at it like (the next contract) could always be your last…Especially me.”
Bondy pointed back to the debilitating knee injury that Livingston suffered back in 2007, which involved a torn ACL, PCL, and meniscus, a sprained MCL, and a dislocated patella and tibia-femoral joint. He’s come a long way on the road to recovery since then, and as evidenced by his 42 starts in 64 games this year, Livingston has made a strong case for being a valuable and reliable role player. In 25.3 MPG, he’s averaging 7.9 PPG, 3.3 APG, 3.0 RPG, and 1.2 SPG while shooting nearly 47% from the field. Over the last nine games, Livingston produced 10.2 PPG on 50.7% shooting in 29.4 MPG, helping the team to a 7-2 record.
Brooklyn signed Livingston to a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum last July. With a productive 2013/14 season to boot, Livingston may be in for a significant payday this summer. Unfortunately, says Bondy, the cash-strapped Nets will only have their mid-level exception to offer at most (roughly $10MM over three years). They won’t have Livingston’s Bird Rights, which would have otherwise allowed them to make an offer without dipping into the mid-level. The rest of the season and postseason still figure to play a role in determining Livingston’s value, and how his stock fares down the stretch will certainly be worth keeping an eye on, especially for Brooklyn.