The Shaun Livingston Watch - Day 584

So, even I'm tired of this at this point.

Shaun Livingston is still not signed.  A few weeks ago it was down to three teams:  Portland, Miami and Minnesota.  He was going to play for one of them.  He said as much.

But Portland passed, and someone told Minnesota he was signing with Miami, but then Miami went to camp without him (and with a full roster) and he was still unsigned.  Of those three, Minnesota is the only one that seems genuinely interested: Blazers' GM Kevin Prichard specifically said he was passing, and Pat Riley of the Heat called it a dead issue.  The Wolves remain interested, but why isn't he in camp with them already?

When Jason Williams unexpectedly retired, and training camps opened with Livingston unsigned, it seemed like an opening for the Clippers.  When Shaun returned to LA on Monday, it seemed like a good sign.

Not so fast.  I guess there's another team in LA.  Our old friend Art Thompson III of the Orange County Register, stripped of his Clipper beat and sucked into the Lakers' gravitational pull, has been fanning the flames of a "Livingston to the Lakers" non-story for months now.  He managed to get Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher to say nice things about the kid this time, but that's about as far as it goes.  AT3 says that Phil Jackson is "interested" in having Livingston on the Lakers' roster.  But here's the direct PJ quote:

This is an injury that could take time but we certainly think that he’s going to recover at some level and become a very competent NBA ball player.  He may not have everything that he had in the past but he still has the knack and the athleticism that’s going to make him a very good ball player. It may take him some time.  Without a doubt, we’ll follow him a lot, as we’re all interested in his health and if he can return to the game.

There's a big chasm between "We'll follow him" and "We want him on the roster."  When you look at what Jackson actually said, it's much more the "Hey, he's a good kid and we wish him the best and it will be interesting to see what happens" kind of thing. 

Meanwhile, the Warriors, who had Shaun in for workouts in August, are apparently still interested as well, according to Janny Hu of the SF Chronicle.  Of course, he'll have to beat out Dan Dickau to make the squad - I guess the back troubles that scared off Avellino of the Italian league aren't that scary to Don Nelson.

Through all of this, as far as I know, the Clippers are STILL the only NBA team to offer Livingston a guaranteed contract this season.  The fact that they also gave him a player option for year two makes it basically the best deal that Livingston and agent Henry Thomas (I loved him in ET; SL phone home!) can possibly hope for: guaranteed money for two years, with the chance to prove himself this season and make a lot more if he does.  I dread the idea of Livingston coming back and playing for an in-state (or in-building) division rival, so maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I just don't see anything happening with the Lakers or Warriors.  Reading PJ's quotes, it's pretty obvious that he's not going to use a roster spot on him this season.  As for the Warriors, I always thought that was a great fit for Shaun - a chance to play now, and a chance to be the starter later in a backcourt with an exciting but undersized two in Monta Ellis.  But why didn't the Warriors make an offer in August?  Why weren't they on the short list with the Blazers and Wolves and Heat?  Livingston and Thomas can surely see the same thing I see - that Shaun had a good chance to be successful in Oakland.  So I don't believe it was the player who eliminated the team - I think it was the other way around.

I'm not sure what to make of the fact that he's not in somebody's camp already.  If I was a GM interested in the guy, I'd sure as shootin' want him in camp from day one, working on his conditioning and getting a look at the knee.  Unless teams are simply writing this season off completely, wouldn't you want as long a look as possible before contemplating game action? 

By the way, if you followed the Minnesota link above, you know what Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune thinks is happening:

Shaun Livingston ... likely will sign with Miami once the Heat completes some salary-cap bookkeeping unless the Wolves sweeten their offer.

Of course, that would mean that Riley was lying when he said it was a "dead issue."  Then again, he lied when he said "Stan Van Gundy is the coach." 

So stay tuned.  Who knows what could happen on day 585?

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