Back in June as the Nets brain trust was looking for a back-up point guard. C.J. Watson had a player option and there was no doubt he'd exercise it. The choice came down to two flawed players: the aging veteran Jamaal Tinsley who had started 32 games in Utah last season, and the perennially injured Shaun Livingston, who had played well enough in Cleveland at season's end but had been cut by Washington earlier in the year.
With some prodding from Jason Kidd, the Nets signed Livingston. Good move. Tinsley played only eight games in Utah, averaged 1.1 points and finished with the NBA's worst player efficiency rating, a 1.9. Livingston played a relatively injury-free season and gave the Nets huge boost when Kidd put him in the starting lineup. No longer was his 2007 injury the defining narrative of his career. His play as a Net is. He started a career-high 54 games for the Nets, played a career-high 1.974 minutes and scored a career-high 629 points.
As Dave D'Alessandro writes Wednesday quoting Livingston's father, Reggie...
"I don’t know if his handle is as good, but he’s a more complete player than he was pre-injury," Reggie said. "Defense, post-up, mid-range. He just understands the game better. It’s been seven years since the knee, and we’ve waited for him to finally cross over to where he once was. I think he’s there, and now he can only go up."
D'Alessandro speaks with Livingston's teammates about his development this season and all agree he is the team's "glue guy" (and probably its smartest member). He also speaks with Livingston as well who admits this is the happiest part of his career, even before the injury.
"I like where I’m at, let’s put it that way," Shaun Livingston said. "This year’s been everything I could have asked for."
As for the future, Reggie Livingston says don't discount the importance of loyalty in the calculus of free agency. "Money might be calling, but this is about loyalty, too. Let’s be honest: The Nets helped save his career, and Shaun is a very loyal kid."
- Nets' Shaun Livingston, now a Brooklyn cornerstone, may be better than the original model - Dave D'Alessandro - Star-Ledger
With Livingston, Nets draw Raptors in first round of playoffs - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Shaun Livingston: Point of Persistence - Brett Weisband - SLAM