Why Shaun Livingston and Brooklyn Nets Must Stay Together This Offseason

Frank CesareContributor IIJune 16, 2014

BROOKLYN, NY - MAY 12: Shaun Livingston #14 of the Brooklyn Nets drives against Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2014 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Under head coach Jason Kidd, Shaun Livingston was given the opportunity to showcase his gift and impact the organization. 

The 6'7" point guard delivered this season by outplaying Brooklyn's floor general—Deron Williams—at times. Livingston was a versatile role player for the Nets who developed into their X-factor. 

His ability to guard three positions, due to his length and quick hands, allowed Kidd to play Livingston, Williams and Joe Johnson together—leading to better spacing and ball movement.

According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com, regarding Livingston, "He allows Williams to focus on his own offense and the Nets can work through Livingston and Joe Johnson out of the post and find mismatches and open shooters."

Livingston is grateful for the chance Brooklyn gave him. 

“You know they gave me an opportunity. I think it was a great look, chemistry and fit-wise," he said, via Lenn Robbins of BrooklynNets.com“You know playing for Jason obviously has been a huge benefit for me in learning the game. Being on this platform, this stage, I'm very grateful. I just tried to take advantage of it this year.”


Why Livingston May Leave

The most the Nets can offer is $10 million over three years. There may be other franchises willing to shell out more money for Livingston's services. The Minnesota Timberwolves apparently are interested:

The T'Wolves could offer the full mid-level exception for Livingston, and that may be enough to lure him away from Brooklyn. With his history of injuries earlier in his career, this could be Livingston's best chance to cash out and receive a contract far greater than the $884,293 he signed for last offseason.

No one would fault him for leaving to earn a better living, but with Kevin Love looking like he's on his way out of Minnesota, greener pastures are in Brooklyn. If Livingston wants to be in the playoffs yearly and compete for a championship, he is better off doing so with the Nets in the mediocre Eastern Conference. 

Nets general manager Billy King said about Livingston's decision, via Mike Mazzeo of ESPNNewYork.com, “I think the market will set itself, and then he’s got to make a decision on what’s best for him. Do you take a million more to go play and lose? I think that’s where players choose to make those decisions.” 


Staying Put

Kidd's impact on Livingston has put the point guard in a position to receive a raise this summer. If he stays under Kidd's tutelage and manages to stay healthy, he should be able to continue growing as a player after many had written him off following his string of injuries. 

He's likely to be a starter with the Nets next season, and with another year of chemistry developed between Williams, Johnson and himself, Brooklyn's three guard offense should be efficient and effective.

His skill set, versatility and ability to switch seamlessly onto three or four positions is why he's a key piece to Kidd's rotation. 

Brooklyn's defense was at its best with Livingston on the court using his long arms to disrupt opponents on the perimeter and in the passing lane.

Livingston averaged 6.5 total rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals per 100 possessions, via Basketball-Reference.com. It would be hard-pressed for the Nets to find that kind of production elsewhere without any salary cap space or a first-round draft pick.

Both Livingston and the Nets are built for each other—Kidd's system ran its smoothest once Livingston was given more responsibility and Williams played off the ball. With his current ankle issues, it's imperative to maintain a solid passer and playmaker who creates mismatches by simply walking on the court like Livingston. 

He could leave for more money potentially, but it won't be likely that he'll get a chance to start, and learn from one of the greatest point guards of all time.