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The End Game for Livingston

Well, at least in this case you can't say it's all ClipperSteve and wishful thinking.

According to Ramona Shelburne's blog for the LB Press Telegram / LA Daily News, MDsr confirmed at media day today that the Clippers offered Shaun a one year guaranteed contract with a player option for a second year.  This was back in August, and obviously he turned it down, at which point the Clippers signed Jason Williams who has since retired.  If the Williams signing closed the door on Livingston, his retirement has opened the window.  It's significant that MDsr confirmed the contract offer - something we've only speculated about in the past.  It's not clear that any other team is going to offer him a guaranteed contract, let alone a player option in year 2.  It seems like the best offer he's going to get.  Of course, it's still to back up Baron Davis for five years, and to play for a coach who wasn't exactly allowing Shaun to flourish.  But apparently if Shaun wants to play in LA, the offer still stands.

So what about those other teams?  With training camps opening across the NBA, Livingston remains unsigned.  Here's the latest, as far as I can tell.  For a couple weeks, the rumor has been that Portland, Miami and Minnesota were interested, and that he would sign with one of those three.  Portland dropped out last week when Kevin Pritchard said that the Blazers would pass.  Miami seemed worried about the lingering effects of the knee injury, according to Ira Winderman's blog - which seemingly left the field to the Timberwolves.

But when the Wolves announced their training camp roster today, Livingston's name was not on it.  More than just an oversight, according to Wolves beat writer Jerry Zgoda at 4PM CT Monday, the Wolves have given up on signing Shaun, believing him on his way to the Heat:

Shaun Livingston isn’t coming along for the ride. According to Kevin McHale and Jim Stack, their efforts to sign the former Los Angeles Clippers guard are over and they said he instead has chosen Miami.

But wait.  There's no confirmation yet from the Heat that Livingston will re-locate to South Beach, despite McHale representing the deal as a fait accompli.  The latest from Winderman in the Sun-Sentinel at 11 PM ET Monday night is that, according to Shaun's agent Henry Thomas (who also happens to represent Dwyane Wade), they are 'leaning toward' signing with Miami.  Of course the strange thing here is that there do not seem to be any other suitors with the Wolves pulling out.  So why is he only leaning?  Why hasn't he fallen in?  It's also strange in the extreme that the Heat have already invited the NBA maximum 20 players to training camp.  If they want to include Livingston at this point, they'll have to un-invite someone else.  No big deal I guess - but it doesn't seem like a team that was trying to lure Livingston would fill up their dance card that way.  They weren't exactly building their plans around him, that's for sure.

Which brings us back to the Clippers.  MDsr is saying that they don't need to pursue him even with the retirement of Jason Williams - that he knows the offer is there, the implication of course being that he's still welcome to take it. 

We offered him a contract and he turned it down.  I think they know where we stand, so the ball is pretty much in their court now.  We still like Shaun a lot.

But all indications are that Miami has serious misgivings about Shaun's health - and if they're that concerned, it's difficult to imagine that they will offer him a player option on a second season.  Given Miami's luxury tax situation and their apparent skepticism about Shaun's future, I can't see them offering him any more than a one year minimum deal (maybe with a team option in the second year, which is no advantage to Liv of course).  So in Shaun's worst case scenario (that his career is sadly over) the Clippers' offer is likely worth TWICE what any other offer is worth.

It's already Tuesday in Miami as I write this.  By the time you're reading it, Shaun will no doubt be tossing passes to Dwyane Wade at the Heat's training camp.  But the longer he remains unsigned, the more likely it becomes that he'll end up back in LA - he has a standing offer, it's better than he's going to get elsewhere, and it's hard to imagine that teams are going to give him guaranteed money to come into camp LATE given his status. 

So there's still a chance for the dreamers in Clips Nation.

UPDATE:  When I wrote this post Monday night, I had seen Ramona Shelburne's blog post, but Lisa Dillman's LA Times story was just a stub at the time.  The full story in today's paper certainly has a different spin on MDsr's words on Livingston.  Where Shelburne chose to focus on the concept that the offer is out there and still good, Dillman closed with MDsr questioning Liv's durability: "He looked good.  That's not the issue. What you don't know is how he'll hold up."  Take it for what it's worth.