According to the LA Times, the Clippers made a deal with Jason Williams (for the vet minimum, we assume) only after they were unable to come to terms with Shaun Livingston. The exact sequence is unclear, but one assumes that discussions with Livingston began after Brevin Knight was traded for Jason Hart, which ate up a healthy nugget of the Clips' remaining capspace. (I'm not the expert on these things.) We can assume that Hart was meant to be the solid backup PG, with Mike Taylor available to fill the 3rd string spot, but the primary backup spot was there for Livingston, as well as some minutes at the two or three. But in the Clippers snowballing (and completely unprecedented) free agent bonanza, some of the potential utility minutes must have disappeared, going to Ricky Davis and Eric Gordon. Even so, it appears at this point that the Clips were willing to continue their investment in Livingston and were offering him a minimum contract, but he and the team were "unable to come to terms."
So this is a bit of headscratcher, and a muffled finish to what was once an extremely promising Clipper career. Was it about money or opportunity for Livingston? Things never went his way, and he's had some horrible breaks. The team apparently held a spot for him and was willing to see if he could some day return and fulfill at least some of his potential. But they were also in the process of putting the roster through a major overhaul, and building around an elite PG in Baron Davis. When you add it all up, in the last six weeks the Clips have been able to add enough pieces so that it would be extremely difficult for him to find a slot. He would have to be not just healthy, but better and more effective than he ever was in the stilted sequences when he was actually able to play.
No one knows what Livingston's game might be like if he is ever able to come back. Like FElton, maybe he just needed to get away from the Clipper culture, leaving it to Kaman, Mobley, and the newcomers.
But if it was money, and he felt that the Clippers should have reserved some of the money that they spent on filling out in order to pay him more than the minimum, then it seems like bad faith. We're as sympathetic as can be towards Liv and his horrible injuries and all of the work he has put in to come back, but he has already made millions of dollars for what is effectively a no-show, and it's hard to imagine an argument for why he deserves a bigger share than the minimum, to play for a team that holds his Bird rights and could reward his performance with a generous contract.
We know that Jason Williams can play. He'll be a good enough backup who is a great ballhandler and he can hit shots. His spectacular days are behind him, and he's now an experienced, journeyman PG who can hit some shots and move the ball around, a full cut above Brevin Knight and Dan Dickau. With Davis, Camby, Kaman and Mobley all liable to get banged up here and there or worse, the Clips have made a concerted effort to fill out the roster with guys who have been starters and scorers and have shown that they can fill in if one of the rotation players goes down. Maybe Dunleavy is just challenging Hollinger to come up with new reasons for criticizing the Clippers bench and overall roster.
Too bad about Livingston.