Shaun Livingston leaves Warriors a winner after saving career, finding home

Monte Poole
NBC Sports BayArea

Shaun Livingston came to the Warriors in the summer of 2014 hoping to find a place he could call home and salvage what remained of a promising career derailed by a devastating injury.

He achieved both in Oakland.

That he was richly deserving was evident from the moment he arrived until Wednesday, when the Warriors announced they were waiving the 14-year veteran point guard.

Scroll to continue with content
Ad

The move was anticipated. Livingston, who turns 34 in September, was briefed well in advance, according to league sources. Though he was entering the final year of a three-year deal worth $23.7 million signed in 2017, only $2 million of his $8.3 million salary in 2019-20 was guaranteed. Utilizing the stretch provision, the Warriors will spread the $2 million in equal installments over the next three seasons.

Though it is being reported that Livingston is considering extending his playing career, it's also conceivable he will retire and remain with the Warriors in a different capacity.

He would like that, and so would the Warriors.

Livingston is "Dot" to his now-former Warriors teammates, a reference to a Jay-Z lyric. The 6-foot-7 Illinois native spent five seasons as the restrained voice of reason in a locker room that spanned the spectrum of personalities, from the vocal abstinence of Klay Thompson to the moderating and disarming humor of Stephen Curry, and from the calculated wisdom of Andre Iguodala to the sheer boisterousness of Draymond Green.

Livingston spoke up when it was time to speak up, remained quiet when that was the more prudent option and was discerning enough to read the room and detect the difference.

The serenity was a direct result of his NBA experience. Drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers fourth overall out of Peoria Central High School in 2004, Livingston entered the league with one hand reaching for the torch carried by Penny Hardaway, who inherited it from Magic Johnson, all lengthy and creative point guards able to generate offense in every conceivable way.

Then in his third season, at age 21, came the career-threatening injury that haunts him still and will provide painful reminders for the rest of his life.

Livingston drove to the basket and landed awkwardly, in the process tearing -- take a deep breath -- the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), medical collateral ligament (MCL) and lateral meniscus. Furthermore, he dislocated his patella.

Livingston spent the next 16 months recovering from multiple surgeries, rehabilitating and, as rotten luck would have it, being released by the Clippers.

Thus began what he referred to as his journey. Returning to the NBA 20 months after his injury, he signed with Miami Heat. Three months later, Miami packaged Livingston and cash to the Memphis Grizzlies for a top-55 protected second-round draft pick.

Livingston made his way through five more teams over the next five years before finding himself back on the free-agent market and signing a three-year contract with the Warriors worth $16.6 million on July 11, 2014. With youngsters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson set at the guards of the future, the front office overwhelmingly approved Livingston as the third guard. He was the only significant offseason addition signed before Steve Kerr's first season as coach.

Five trips to the NBA Finals and three championships later, the Warriors have no regrets. They had rescued someone who would make big plays in big games on the court -- such as his 20-point outburst in Game 1 of the 2016 Finals -- and also provide perspective in the locker room.

Livingston also has no regrets. When he became a free agent two years ago, he didn't bother testing the market. Minutes into the negotiating window, he agreed to his current deal.

[RELATED: Kawhi's short contract could be good news for Warriors, NBA]

Asked via text message why didn't play out the process at the time, Livingston's reply imparted the lessons of his personal journey:

"You can't put a price on happiness."

Shaun Livingston leaves Warriors a winner after saving career, finding home originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

What to Read Next