It didn’t take long for their fears to become a reality.
Livingston is signing a three-year contract for the full midlevel exception with the Golden State Warriors, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein.
Losing Shaun Livingston, as Nets feared because of spending limitations, likely to resurrect Marcus Thornton-for-Jarrett Jack trade talks
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 2, 2014
Why it happened: Livingston had a career year for the Nets last season. But Brooklyn could only offer him its full taxpayer mini midlevel exception (three years, just over $10 million). Livingston, 28, averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 assists and 3.2 rebounds in 26 minutes per game for the Nets in 2013-14. He proved to be the steal of the summer, inking a deal for just the veteran’s minimum.
What they’ll miss: Livingston is a versatile guard who can defend and facilitate for his teammates, and take advantage of his size in the post. Brooklyn’s turnaround following a 10-21 start was keyed by former coach Jason Kidd’s decision to move Livingston into the starting lineup in 2014 after Brook Lopez was lost to a season-ending foot injury. The Nets started thriving by playing small ball, forcing turnovers and firing up a ton of 3-pointers. Kidd was instrumental in convincing management to take a chance on Livingston. It paid massive dividends.
Can they replace him? Livingston is such a unique player given that he’s 6-foot-7 with a long wingspan. In short, the answer is no. The Nets now need to turn their attention to point guards who fit their price range, which is either using all or part of their taxpayer mini midlevel or offering the veteran’s minimum. They could also try to execute a trade, of course. Deron Williams seemed to be at his best when playing with Livingston, who allowed Williams to play off the ball. It’s unknown if the next coach the Nets hire will want to continue this type of alignment, albeit with a different guard. King said Tuesday that Jameer Nelson is on the list. Kirk Hinrich, Devin Harris and Ramon Sessions are some of the other reasonable options out there.
What they’re saying: “If Shaun gets a great deal, I’ll be happy for him,” Nets general manager Billy King said Tuesday. “I think he’s earned it and he’s come a long way, and if he gets a great deal I told him, I said, 'I’ll be happy and hug you every time I see you and I’ll appreciate the job you did this year.'"
Good for Shaun: Livingston had earned $25.1 million in his career prior to signing this deal. It could’ve been much more, though, had he not suffered that gruesome knee injury in 2007. But Livingston has made an incredible comeback. He’s a great guy, and he deserves this.