Big, fancy names are usually what NBA fan bases want for their franchises, but it isn’t always what they need. Especially if the team is muddled in cap-space hell, with no movable pieces, or any NBA draft picks of relevance in the near future. All of those negative characteristics, mind you, are some characteristics of the Brooklyn Nets. Still, there are some key offseason decisions for the Nets to make. They keyword there being, some. As in, like, two–the possible re-signing of Paul Pierce and/or Shaun Livingston.
This has less to do with Pierce, but the truth of the matter is that Brooklyn should go after Livingston far harder than attempting to lure the decomposing corpse of Pierce back for another season. The signing of either, or both, is not an and/or situation. It could be done either way. Even with that being said, especially with the Nets being well over the cap for 2014-15, Brooklyn can no longer afford the luxury of hurling money towards the general direction of current iffy-at-best basketball players.
Again, not that Pierce has lost all his value. As a player he still has some. Just not that much. Certainly not enough for a team in the Eastern Conference that isn’t going to battle for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. And clearly not for a team whose roster is older than the leftover meatloaf in your fridge. Really, if push comes to saving a few bucks on the luxury tax, Brooklyn’s only possible offseason maneuver is re-signing Shaun Livingston.
It is not all gravy and rainbows with Livingston, however. The oft-injured guard played a career high of 76 (54 starting) games this past season. Before that, Livingston’s career has been filled with injuries, overcoming them, and becoming some form of redemption story. You know, if redeeming yourself actually means overcoming something that has happened to you, through no fault of your own — the, now historical and mythological, leg injury of Feb. 26, 2007.
We know that story by now. Livingston, a once humorously promising NBA prospect turned NBA draft cautionary tale (again, through no fault of his own), has reinvented himself as a less athletic, but high basketball IQ, version of his former self. Livingston’s transformation as a player, and staying healthy, was a huge reason why Brooklyn was one of the hottest teams from January on this past season and how they were able to overcome losing Brook Lopez for the season.
Livingston isn’t going to come cheap. Well, at least not as cheap as he did last year. For the 2013-14 season, Legless Livingston (patent pending) made a whopping $884,293. That is especially cheap when compared to Pierce’s $15,333,334. But let’s be honest, neither are making that kind of loot next year. The Truth will probably make far less. It doesn’t matter if it is for Brooklyn or another team. Assuming he wants to play for a contender, none of them are going to pay that kind of dough for a player on the decline. Livingston, on the other hand, should expect a raise. However, given his injury history, it will probably be a more modest type of contract. But who knows, a contender might decide to overpay for a player who has shown, when healthy, that he is a more than capable starting point guard in the NBA.
What is weird about all of this, outside the fact that these are the only two offseason moves Brooklyn could even ponder, is that both these players are guys who can’t give more than 30 minutes per game. Although, if my choices were between a player with an ego, as well as a penchant for pretending to be hit by a sniper rifle during a game, and a guy who just so happened to have some horrific injuries throughout his career — give me the guy with no legs. Plus, I mean, between Livingston and Deron Williams losing all his ankles, Brooklyn could be nicknamed The Extremities (or the lack thereof).
Paul Pierce is probably the player of more consequence at this point. Even at his age. I am not arguing that. But factoring everything the Nets have going against them, with Pierce’s contract going to be way more than Livingston’s and a future foundation needing to be somewhat put in place, Livingston is not only Brooklyn’s top re-signing priority, but their only one.
So yeah, there’s that.