Brooklyn Nets guard Shaun Livingston spoke with WEEK Reporter in Illinois for CINewsNow.com, and spoke about his upcoming free agency by saying he'd "love to be back in Brooklyn."
I don't know Livingston's thinking, or his agent's thinking. You could make a real argument that Livingston, a career nomad, has finally found a professional home in the Brooklyn area. He's certainly the type of man who feels a sense of community, given how much he loves his hometown of Peoria, Illinois. Given that he's rejuvenated his career in Brooklyn, it's certainly defensible to think that Livingston will stick around for the psychic benefits of finding a home.
But there's another, very real factor at play for Livingston. As you probably know by now, Livingston's prime was cut short by one of the most horrific injuries in NBA history, one that took him nearly seven years to fully recover from. But not only did Livingston lose years off his prime, the injury also cost him millions of dollars: while rehabilitating, Livingston never hit the open market as a fully healthy free agent, and was merely let go after the final year of his rookie contract.
Barring an unforseen deconstruction of their roster, the Nets can only offer Livingston a three-year contract worth approximately $10.2 million. Teams with cap room can offer Livingston more, and teams under the luxury tax can offer a four-year deal in the $20 million range.
Most 23-year-old lottery picks have a near-guarantee at a multi-year second contract in the tens of millions; Livingston has made just $25 million in his career, a high number to you and me but a low number for a fourth overall pick.
Now 29, this is possibly Livingston's one shot at a real payday, to secure the financial future for him and his family, and I wouldn't be surprised if he took off for greener pastures. He even said as much in an interview with The Brooklyn Game in February, relieved that he can guarantee his job security next year. "I'm blessed to be in this situation," Livingston said. "I'd rather be in this situation than the opposite situation, trying to figure out, 'okay, am I gonna have a job next year?' So I'm very grateful, very blessed, thank God every day for this."
Given Livingston's resurgence this season, setting numerous career-highs, there's going to be a real market for his services. The Minnesota Timberwolves have already reportedly set their sights on the 6'7" guard, and they can offer more than the Nets. Livingston would be a dream fit in the Miami Heat's system, and the Chicago Bulls offer him a chance to be closer to home.
I can certainly see him taking a pay cut to stay in Brooklyn, after how he's been able to rejuvenate his career. But like Livingston says, it requires both sides to make a mutual agreement. Given what he can likely net on the open market, my guess is that happens elsewhere.
Livingston also predicted that the Spurs, who are up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, would win the NBA Finals.