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Shaun Livingston has played his way to a payday the Nets can’t offer

Mar 19, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

Philadelphia 76ers v Brooklyn Nets Getty Images

Shaun Livingston has been a solid point guard for the Nets this season and he has looked even better of late as the Nets have gotten hot — in his last 5 games he has averaged 11.8 points on 53 percent shooting, plus dishing out four assists a game. He is a quality veteran backup point guard now. Which considering the injury ravaged start to his career — his 2007 knee injury was as bad as you will ever see — and the long road back it is a great accomplishment to be at this level (and a lot of people around the league are rooting for him).

That quality play is going to get him a nice payday as a free agent this summer, a number of teams will be interested.

And those teams will offer more money than the Nets can — Brooklyn is hamstrung by being so far over the salary cap.

Which means Livingston could bolt this summer, something he hinted at in an interview with the New York Daily News.

The Nets, who are way over the cap and deep into the luxury tax, can only offer Livingston up to the entire (tax payers) mid-level exception, which is for three years and $10 million. The 28-year-old Livingston is expected to attract more in the open market, although there’s still plenty of important basketball remaining before July.

“(My enjoyment with Brooklyn and how I fit) definitely plays a factor. You have to weigh your situations, your options. The reason I’m in a situation where I can demand a contract is because I’m playing for this team, this coach, this system,” he said. “I realize that and I’m not over my head. But at the same time, it’s a business. You have to look at it like (the next contract) could always be your last. Especially me.”

It sounds like Livingston isn’t going to bolt Brooklyn for just a few more dollars. But what if a team under the tax line offers the full regular mid-level exception — four years and $21.2 million (estimated)? Or even three years and nearly $16 million?

That’s a lot of money to leave on the table.

This is what Brooklyn has really done with their utter disregard for the luxury tax system — it’s not just the tax money, it’s that once you pay the tax the rules restrict what you can offer free agents. Even your own free agents.

It’s going to make it hard for Brooklyn to keep bringing in players. For years. Because remember in the 2015-16 season Joe Johnson and Deron Williams alone will make nearly $46 million, and the summer before is when Brook Lopez can opt out and try to get a max deal. Brooklyn has some cap challenges in its future to say the least.

Livingston is just the first wave of this.

  1. nadoinspincity - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:42 PM

    He would be the best point guard in the nba if it wasn’t for that awful injury. Its crazy he’s even walking right now let alone playing so well, at the time they said they might have to amputate the leg.

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      He would be the best point guard in the nba if it wasn’t for that awful injury

      Whoa. Bold one. Do Nets fans honestly believe this? Serious question.

      • asimonetti88 - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        It’s a pretty bold statement, but the guy is very talented and who knows what could have happened if he hadn’t suffered that injury. That said, he had to adjust his game a lot because of the injury, so there’s really no guarantee he would have developed the same way he has.

      • nadoinspincity - Mar 19, 2014 at 8:20 PM

        As a Clippers fan I believe it. We loved him. He was a 6’7 point guard who was insanely fast, had amazing court vision and perfect handles. His shooting was improving rapidly, and he was putting on some muscle. His game had so many similarities to Magic Johnson, and with the amount that comparison was made you just gotta believe he would’ve developed into something similar. The fact that he can still play in the nba pretty much just by using his basketball iq and height for his position is enough to confirm my beliefs personally. However with his super lean body, it is inevitable he’d have got injured eventually, and he already was struggling through injuries for his first two seasons. But yah if by some miracle never got injured he’d be at the very least a top 3 pg in the league.

        He basically didn’t play in the nba for 4 years either so it wasn’t like he’s been developing at all. He’s more or less the same player he was 7 years ago except he only is playing with one leg now. Its similar to how I believe Greg Oden would be the best center in the league right now if it wasn’t for his injuries, but I feel like more people share that opinion.

        I watch Chris Paul every night and I still have to feel that Shaun Livingston would have been the best point guard right now.

    • pharohislife - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:03 PM

      Could’ve at least said “one of the best” My God.

    • ProBasketballPundit - Mar 20, 2014 at 7:19 PM

      He would not be the best PG in the league. Advanced metrics have proven that a great offense must be able to space the floor. Livingston can’t shoot 3’s. He ends up camping in the paint and clogging up the offense. That’s part of why they’re rated 18th in offense.

  2. mackcarrington - Mar 19, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    He was 18 and straight out of high school when he tore up his knee. I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.
    Elgin Baylor has finally been justified.

    • tuberippin - Mar 19, 2014 at 3:01 PM

      …It hasn’t been ten years.

      • icanthearu - Mar 19, 2014 at 3:15 PM

        It has been 10 years. (

      • mackcarrington - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:22 PM

        His rookie year was 2004-05.
        Close enough.

      • mackcarrington - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:24 PM

        Actually it’s been 7 years.
        Damn, I’m not perfect!

  3. time4complaints - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    Too bad for the Nets, but good for Shaun. Nice to see a guy fight his way back from a near career ending injury and earn a well deserved payday!

  4. csbanter - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Livingston should give the nets a home town discount. Jason Kidd system has made it possible for him to have this season. Otherwise he can sign with the Kings and enjoy the benefits of an early off season every year.

    • spursareold - Mar 19, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      It’s really rare for a player to leave more than a pittance on the table. They all talk about winning, but they usually follow the cash flow.

      A quick piece of advice. Don’t pay attention to what people say, watch what they do. What they do is who they are.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 19, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      Why would Livingston give up money? He should know better than anyone how every player is just one injury away from never playing again.

    • mackcarrington - Mar 19, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      He’s 28 and he’s finally going to have chance to really get paid.
      Made it back from a catastrophic injury.
      There’s no way in hell he should be thinking about giving anybody any kind of discount.

  5. cruzan80 - Mar 19, 2014 at 3:10 PM

    So good to see this kid playing well. Too many times injuries rob us of seeing great players be great… least he still gets to be a factor in the league. Tip of the hat to Mr. Livingston.

    • biasedhomer - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:43 PM

      He’s not really a kid. He’s a 8 year vet.

  6. dablakdrphil - Mar 19, 2014 at 6:35 PM

    Extremely happy for Livingston, I watched a lot of Clipper games during his time with them and I used to say he’s one of the bright spots for this team (back when they were a joke of a franchise) This couldn’t have happened to a more deserving young man

  7. John X - Mar 20, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    Watching Shaun Livingston play this year has been a pleasure and it is amazing how many injuries he has endured because he is very athletic today. I can’t imagine what he was and his handle is so smooth for any person nevermind a big guy. And he knows how to play. He has only gotten better and more reliable with more minutes.

    The Nets are better than most people know mostly because of him. I hope he stays more than any other guy on that team and its too bad it probably won’t happen. He could start for anther team and he does start but I hope the Nets can get him to stay.

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