The Warriors have agreed to sign unrestricted free agent guard Shaun Livingston to a three-year contract worth $16 million, according to Yahoo Sports and USA Today Sports. Golden State used its mid-level exception to complete the deal, which includes a partially-guaranteed third year, according to CBSSports.com.
Livingston, 28, averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals for Brooklyn last season, and his January promotion into the starting lineup was a key driver of the Nets' late-season success.
A long-armed, versatile guard who can play on or off the ball and defend multiple positions, Livingston has successfully completed a feel-good comeback from a gruesome knee injury that cost him the entire 2007-08 season. The Warriors will be the ninth team of his nine-year career. His new deal represents a nice payday, as he signed with the Nets last summer on a one-year, veteran's minimum contract.
"[It's been a] long time coming," Livingston told NBA.com.
The agreement comes hours after the Bucks formally announced the hiring of former Nets coach Jason Kidd, who reportedly tried and failed to execute a power grab in Brooklyn. Nets GM Billy King had called re-signing Livingston "priority number one" back in March, but it took less than 24 hours into the free agency period for Livingston to bolt for Golden State.
First-year Warriors coach Steve Kerr will welcome Livingston's defensive mindset and length to a backcourt that includes All-Star point guard Stephen Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson. Last season, Golden State struggled to replace reserve point guard Jarrett Jack, who signed with the Cavaliers last summer, and it tried to make due with midseason pick-ups Jordan Crawford and Steve Blake to no avail. Livingston will surely be called upon to fill that role at times, and his pairing with forward Andre Iguodala should make for a nice tandem when it comes to perimeter defense. It's also conceivable that Livingston will find himself playing an even larger role, should Golden State find a way to complete one of the rumored blockbuster trades that have been floating around in recent months.
The big hole in Livingston's game is his perimeter shooting: he has connected on just 10 three-pointers during his entire career, and it's fair to wonder how his lack of range will impact the spacing in Golden State's three-heavy offense. Still, he is able to compensate for this limitation by moving well off the ball, by attacking off the dribble and by playing with high energy.
SI.com ranked Livingston at No. 20 on the "Top 25 Free Agents of 2014" list, and wondered whether Brooklyn would be able to retain him given its massive payroll obligations. Looks like that question has been answered already.
Grade: B. The Warriors might have exited in the first round of this year's playoffs, but they view themselves -- not absurdly -- as being title contenders. It can be difficult to add a player of Livingston's quality when your franchise's self-perception exceeds its accomplishments, and Golden State did well here to aggressively target and land an upgrade from its second-unit guards last season. The partial guarantee hedges nicely against the worst-case scenario -- another catastrophic injury -- and Livingston's reputation as a worker should dispel any concerns about how he responds after a contract year. Even with injuries to Iguodala and Andrew Bogut, the Warriors finished with the West's No. 1 defense last season, and Livingston should help them defend that title in 2014-15. Even if glue guys like Livingston don't always command mid-level money, Golden State should feel justified in this expenditure.