This is the seventh installment of our daily Nets player-by-player breakdown, with an emphasis on what’s to come for next season.
SHAUN LIVINGSTON, GUARD
Year in review: It was a breakout season for Livingston, who displayed significant flashes of the enormous potential he had before suffering a devastating left knee injury in 2007. Livingston played in a career-high 76 games, averaging 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals.
Livingston was a vital piece to the Nets’ success this season and a key component in Jason Kidd’s offense. Kidd started Livingston for 54 games, many alongside Deron Williams which allowed Williams to concentrate on his offense. Kidd loves to take advantage of mismatches and he often posted up the 6-7 Livingston on smaller guards and worked off Livingston in the paint. Livingston’s defense –- in particular his long arms and quick hands –- also helped fuel the Nets’ big run after Jan. 1.
Even though Kidd opted to start Alan Anderson ahead of Livingston in Games 6 and 7 against Toronto in the first round, Livingston was one of Kidd’s most trusted players. The point guard logged 31.8 minutes a game against Miami and averaged 11.4 points, 3.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds in the second-round series. Kidd also went to Livingston late in Game 5, posting up the taller guard on Dwyane Wade with the game hanging in the balance. The Nets felt Livingston was fouled on his five-foot miss but it showed how much Kidd trusts the point guard.
Role moving forward: If Livingston re-signs with the team, he will continue his pivotal role starting alongside Williams. He’s an integral part of Kidd’s system on both offense and defense. He allows Williams to focus on his own offense and the Nets can work through Livingston and Joe Johnson out of the post and find mismatches and open shooters. Defensively, he is long and tall enough to defend three positions.
Contract status: After earning $884,293 last season, Livingston is a free agent.
What they’re saying:
“That definitely plays a role for me,” Livingston said when asked what if a non-contending team offers a lucrative contract. “My situation is backwards for me. Usually, guys get a chance to be really a free agent for the first time early [on]. For me, I kind of missed out on that time. But I'm 28, you know, in the prime. I'd like to win. That's my goal.”
Should they bring him back? While Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s decisions this summer will draw more attention, Livingston’s decision will have a big impact on the Nets. While the Nets got him on the cheap last summer, Brooklyn will have a difficult time replacing Livingston if he earns a much-deserved pay day elsewhere. Livingston is a glue guy and is excellent for team chemistry as well and that's hard to find from a minimum salary guy again if Livingston leaves.
The Nets likely have to hope that Livingston will consider returning for the taxpayer mid-level exception ($3.278 million).