Shaun Livingston has had one of his best seasons as a pro with Brooklyn this year, providing stability and athleticism at the guard position while starting in 43 of his 65 appearances.
Livingston will be a free agent this summer, and all signs point to him cashing in if he gets the chance. He’s been on essentially minimum salary deals since suffering the horrific knee injury early in his career, and making the most money possible in what may be his final chance to do so on a long-term deal would obviously make the most sense.
Nets GM Billy King spoke with reporters before Friday’s win over the Celtics, and said he has every intention of re-signing Livingston, but admitted that the finances might be a challenge.
From Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
King also used his 10-minute session with the media Friday to applaud the job of Kidd and proclaim that re-signing impending free agent Shaun Livingston is “priority No. 1.”
Two days after Livingston hinted to the Daily News that he’s keen on signing a big contract – one the Nets can’t afford because they’re over the cap – King laid out his own options for Livingston.
“The market will set itself and then he’ll have to make a decision that’s best for him,” he said. “Do you take a million more to play and lose?”
That answer for Livingston will almost certainly be a resounding “yes.”
Livingston knows that his role with the Nets has played a part in the value he’s now earned, but he also is well aware that this might be his best chance to secure a multi-year deal for more than the Nets have to offer.
Brooklyn will likely have a mid-level exception to give to Livingston, which will be in the neighborhood of just over $3 million per year. But if he can get more elsewhere, or if he can gain the security of more years on his next contract, Livingston will likely (and wisely) sign for the most money possible.
The Lakers are 0-3 with LeBron James, and pressure is mounting.
One way to release it: Venting about officiating.
Lakers coach Walton via Kurt Helin:
“Let me start here. … I wasn’t going to say anything, because I was going to save my money. But I just can’t anymore.”
“It’s 70-something points in the paint to 50-something (74 to 50), again they outshoot us from the free throw line, 38 free throws (the Lakers had 26),” Walton ranted after the game. “Watch the play — watch the play where I got a technical, watch what happens to LeBron James’ arm. It’s the same thing that James Harden and Chris Paul shot 30 free throws on us the night before. Then LeBron pulls up on a screen and somebody’s trying to fight over it, same thing they shot free throws on. Same thing.
“We are scoring 70 points a night in the paint. We’re putting pressure on. Josh Hart, watch how plays the game, played 40 minutes tonight, all he does is attack the rim — zero free throws tonight. Zero. I know they’re young, but if we’re going to play a certain way then let’s not reward people for flopping 30 feet from the hole on plays that have nothing to do with that possession. They’re just flopping to see if they can get a foul call. And then not reward players who are physically going to the basket and getting hit. That’s not right.”
I’m not certain Walton will get fined. These comments are borderline. But he asked for it, and the league might abide.
The numbers Walton cites are not convincing. Sometimes, one team deserves more free throws than the other. Maybe the Lakers outscored the Spurs by so much in the paint because the Spurs kept ceding baskets inside rather than fouling and the Lakers kept sending San Antonio to the line for free throws, which don’t count as points in the paint. Also keep in mind: Los Angeles outscored the Spurs 41-7 in transition. Many of the Lakers’ paint points came against a defense not positioned to contest shots, with or without contact.
But Walton is fighting bigger battles – taking heat off his team for losing, showing his players he has their back, making referees think twice on foul calls. If Walton achieves those objectives, a fine will be well worth it.
David Blatt infamously tried to call a timeout while the Cavaliers were out of them. Though he was stopped before receiving a technical foul, that was seen as evidence Blatt didn’t have the basketball intelligence to coach LeBron James.
Somewhere, Blatt is quietly smiling. (Or let’s be real, loudly telling everyone how smart he is.)
LeBron had his biggest moment as a Laker, making a game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime in Los Angeles’ eventual loss to the Spurs last night. But LeBron probably shouldn’t have had the opportunity to take the shot.
Once the Lakers secured possession, LeBron appeared to call for a timeout despite the Lakers having none remaining. If referees granted the timeout, it also would have come with a technical foul that gave the Spurs a chance to put the game out of reach in regulation.
Instead, Josh Hart incidentally made a big play by passing to LeBron. LeBron had to drop his T-signaling hands to catch the pass. Then, he brought the ball up court and drilled a 3-pointer.
LeBron said he wasn’t trying to call timeout, but his smiling denial isn’t exactly convincing. Laker coach Luke Walton was more honest.
“When I saw LeBron calling for the timeout I was yelling and I think [Kyle Kuzma] was too, I’ve got to watch the tape,” Walton said after the game. “But once he realized that we didn’t have any there wasn’t an action we ran, LeBron just dribbled up and made a three, which is what makes him special.”
This isn’t the first time LeBron lost track of timeouts at the end of a game, anyway.
Markieff Morris (28 points and nine rebounds) came up big in the Wizards’ overtime win over the Trail Blazers last night.
He didn’t even need to be in the game to help Washington stop Portland on the final possession of regulation.
There should be no place for that. None. Games should be decided by the 10 players on the court. Anyone not in the game should do nothing to encroach on the space of players in the game. Stepping over the sideline is an egregious violation. Touching a player or his uniform is beyond outrageous.
The NBA has occasionally fined coaches (including former Wizards assistant Sidney Lowe) and players, but the league hasn’t gone far enough. This type of conduct, though usually not this flagrant, occurs far too often. It’s past time to crack down. Fines, suspensions, whatever it takes to ensure this stops.
After years of neglecting to deter these antics, the NBA shouldn’t put all the weight of the problem on Morris. Fine him what has been the standard amount, but make clear to everyone this was the last straw before more severe penalties.
Morris’ shorts tug might have decided the game. We’ll never know whether that would have been the difference between the Trail Blazers scoring on the possession or not. Probably not. Damian Lillard missed on a drive, but maybe he would kicked to Seth Curry if Curry weren’t flailing his arms, exasperated by Morris contact. Or maybe Otto Porter would have stuck just a little closer to Curry without “help” defense from Morris, leaving more room for Lillard.
But it’s only a matter of time until the NBA has a more controversial ending involving someone on the bench getting involved in the play.
The Trail Blazers were celebrating Halloween a little early this year, wearing their costumes to the arena Monday night.
Damian Lillard went with Stone Cold.
But nobody topped Maurice Harkless’ Tyrone Biggums costume. Brilliant.
There were other creative players, too.
Portland has set the bar high this year.