I’ll admit, I’ve been a staunch supporter of Steve Blake since the day the Golden State Warriors first traded for him. It wasn’t just because the move unloaded Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks on the Los Angeles Lakers in the process, but the Dubs finally had a quality backup point guard who could manage the offense, set up his teammates and take the ball out of Jordan Crawford‘s hands.
But with the upcoming acquisition of Shaun Livingston, you can forget about Steve Blake. The Dubs have found the perfect complement to an already stellar backcourt.
Coming off his best season in the NBA, Livingston will sign a three-year contract with the Warriors that will pay him just more than $5 million per season (using the full mid-level exception).
Back in 2007, a horrific knee injury nearly ended his basketball career (Seriously, don’t watch the clip above if you’re eating right now. Even blurry and with a misspelled name, it’s disturbing). It was a long road to recovery for him, but NBA fans everywhere were delighted to see a great guy like Livingston healthy and playing good basketball this season. Livingston averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game while shooting 48 percent from the floor this year with the Brooklyn Nets.
When (former) head coach Jason Kidd decided to move Livingston into the starting lineup and go with some unconventional rotations to adapt after Brook Lopez‘s season-ending injury, the Nets began to turn things around. Is it a coincidence the Nets started off the year 10-21 with Livingston starting sparingly and finished the season on a 34-17 tear once he became a regular in the starting lineup? Not a chance.
Luckily for the Warriors, they’re going to enjoy a noticeable upgrade from Steve Blake now that they’ve agreed to a deal with Shaun Livingston. As a 6’7″ point guard, he’s is a versatile combo guard who can defend with his length, use his height advantage against defenders in the post and set up his teammates much like Blake.
Anyway, basketball is fluid and Livingston/Curry can play simultaneously without “You be the 1, you be the 2″ doctrines
— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) July 2, 2014
Livingston doesn’t have the same knack for racking up assists as Blake, but he’s a well-rounded glue guy who can play off the ball with Stephen Curry or back him up. The biggest problem with the fit here is that Livingston is not even close to being a three-point shooter. The Warriors don’t necessarily need their backup point guard to be a marksman, but Livingston averaging 0.1 threes per game and making only 16.7 percent of them last year doesn’t bode well for an offense that featured the two players who made the most threes in the NBA in 2013-14.
But even though Livingston won’t be much of a threat from the perimeter, he brings a new dimension to the backcourt. that could very well make Klay Thompson a little less valuable to the Dubs. And therein lies the beauty of this signing: the-court possibilities are just the beginning, because believe it or not, Shaun Livingston could be the beginning of Kevin Love becoming becoming a Golden State Warrior.
According to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports, assuming Livingston officially signs his deal for the full mid-level exception (free agents aren’t allowed to officially sign the contracts they verbally agree to until July 10), the Warriors’ team salary will be hard capped at $81 million, which means they cannot exceed that amount.
The most common potential trade for Love that’s been talked about is Thompson and David Lee going to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Love and Kevin Martin, which would put the Dubs’ team salary at around $75 million. In other words, even though Livingston could never replace Thompson’s perimeter shooting, the Warriors may decide he’ll at least make up for some of Thompson’s absence in the backcourt. And with Kevin Love dangled in front of them, suddenly that “off limits” stance on Thompson could change.