Perhaps we're overthinking it, but in interviews, Shaun Livingston seems to be crediting his coach, Jason Kidd, not the Nets, for his revival last season, a revival that won him a three-year, $16 million contract and a trip to the NBA Finals.
When David Aldridge asked him this weekend "How important was the year in Brooklyn, and quickly gaining the confidence and trust of Jason Kidd?" Deron Williams' backup chose to praise Kidd, but didn't mention the organization.
"I knew he had vouched for me, even before. He was with the Knicks and I was with Cleveland (in 2013), and the way I played, I think he kind of had, it was a mutual respect, as far as the way I played the game, the way I studied it, as far as having a high IQ. And obviously he's one of the best point guards to play, and he led a team for 20 years. Just having that bond, having that trust in me last year meant a lot. It made me want to go out and play hard every night, play my heart out every night, really back up his decision to bring me to that team."
Livingston signed a one-year, vets minimum deal in July 2013 with no options. By that point, the Nets were limited to small deals while they negotiated with Bojan Bogdanovic. Livingston, although he had Kidd's faith, was still a risk with his injury history.
League sources at the time told NetsDaily that Kidd and Lawrence Frank both went to bat for Livingston while the front office liked 35-year-old Jamaal Tinsley for the back-up job. Kidd won the day. Tinsley who had started 32 games for the Jazz the year before, played eight more games in his NBA career while Livingston had his best year since his horrific knee injury in 2007. Although the Nets were willing to offer Livingston the mini-MLE, the Warriors offer was richer. (Bogdanovic wound up with the mini-MLE and the Nets traded for Jarrett Jack.)
"Jason’s situation didn’t help matters," Livingston told NBA.com after his agreement with Golden State.
In an interview with Newsday's Rod Boone at the Finals, Livingston admitted that the switch from sometime starter to backup on the best team in the NBA has had its own pressures.
"[H}aving a bigger role last year and then having to come and have a smaller role, individually you want to do great. You want to have all this production. You want to have all these minutes and when it's not there, you've got to still stay with it."
For the first time in his career, Livingston, now 29, has put together back-to-back seasons of 75 or more regular season games. In the Finals, he's played 30 minutes in the two games, scoring seven points and handing out four assists.
- Warriors want new arena to have that familiar roar of old - David Aldridge - NBA.com
- Former Net Shaun Livingston glad to play role in NBA Finals - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Shaun Livingston: My bond with Jason Kidd "meant a lot" on path - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game