Nets Prioritize Re-Signing Shaun Livingston

March 21 at 9:42pm CST By Chuck Myron

The Nets will make re-signing unrestricted free agent Shaun Livingston their top priority in the offseason, GM Billy King says, according to Newsday’s Rod Boone (Twitter link). The 28-year-old point guard suggested earlier this week that he’d seek a lucrative payday in the summer. Brooklyn will be limited to giving Livingston a starting salary of no more than $3.278MM via the taxpayer’s mid-level exception, since they hold only Non-Bird rights on the rejuvenated Henry Thomas client.

Livingston, a former No. 4 overall pick, is enjoying his best season since a gruesome knee injury in early 2007 derailed his career. He’s started 43 games, many of them as part of Brooklyn’s successful small-ball lineup, and while his numbers of 8.0 points and 3.1 assists in 25.1 minutes per game aren’t flashy, the Nets are 27-16 when he starts and 8-15 when he doesn’t.

Brooklyn signed Livingston to a guaranteed minimum-salary contract before this season after he finished up 2012/13 with the Cavs. Since he’s been with the team for just a single season and makes the minimum salary, Brooklyn has Non-Bird rights with Livingston that only allow them to give him a new contract with a starting salary worth 120% of the minimum. That makes it likely the team gives him at least a portion of its mid-level, which will almost assuredly be the smaller, taxpayer’s variety, since the Nets already have more than $85MM in commitments for next season.

The mid-level may get a deal done for Livingston, but he isn’t the only free agent the Nets will have, as Paul Pierce‘s contract also expires at season’s end. King says that he and Pierce haven’t talked about an extension, as Boone notes via Twitter, and the GM’s assertion that Livingston will be his No. 1 offseason focus might indicate that the Nets won’t put much effort into re-signing Pierce, though that’s just my speculation. The Nets have full Bird rights on the former Celtic, since they acquired him via trade, so they have much greater latitude to re-sign him, and Brooklyn hasn’t shown any reluctance to spend on its roster under owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Andrei Kirilenko and Andray Blatche have player options worth about $3.3MM and $1.4MM, respectively, and both could probably command more if they opted out. If they decide to hit the market, they’ll join Jason Collins, who’s on a deal for just the rest of the season, as other Nets becoming free agents on July 1st.

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