Livingston Hopes to Call Cleveland Home
You probably know the story. You may have even seen the YouTube video. The Los Angeles Clippers’ 21-year-old point guard Shaun Livingston breaks toward the basket in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats. As he comes down from an uncontested layup, his knee gives out. It’s a wrenching moment that altered the course of Livingston’s career.
Because of the injury, Livingston was forced to sit out the entire 2007-08 season in order to rehab his knee. While many thought the injury would end his career, Livingston worked his way back into the NBA in 2009. He managed to play four games for the Miami HEAT.
Since his return, Livingston has played for six teams in five seasons. Most recently, he was starting games for the injury-plagued Washington Wizards. In an unexpected move, the Wizards waived him in December. The Cleveland Cavaliers quickly claimed Livingston off waivers. The now 27-year-old Livingston immediately found a role as the Cavaliers’ backup point guard and he hopes that this latest stop in Cleveland will last beyond this season.
“I hope it’s for more than just this year,” Livingston told HOOPSWORLD about his stint with the Cavaliers. “I’d like to find a place that I can call home. If this is the place, I welcome it with open arms. Any opportunity I get to play in the NBA is a blessing, just from where I came from obviously with the injuries and everything.”
In his first five games with the Cavs, Livingston has made an immediate impact. While he is only averaging four points and three assists in those five games, his ability to play both the point guard and shooting guard positions allow the Cavaliers to have multiple ball handlers on the court at all times.
“My versatility is something that I bring to this team,” Livingston said. “I can slide over to different positions and try to make the game easier for Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters. That’s why [the Cavaliers] brought me here. They know what I can do just from me being around the league for eight years.”
Head coach Byron Scott likes the experience that Livingston brings to this young Cavaliers team. A team which, with an average age of 24.5 years old, is the third-youngest in the NBA.
“Shaun has played well,” Scott said. “He brings a calming effect when he comes into the game. He’s an eight-year veteran, so he understands what’s going on out on the court. He’s a guy that you never see out of control. He knows where to be on the court. He knows where his teammates should be. I think for a young ball club like this one, that’s vital.”
When asked about providing that calming influence, Livingston modestly insisted that Irving – last year’s Rookie of the Year – brings some of that same influence as well.
“Kyrie has that same calming effect on the court,” Livingston said. “He just understands the game. He makes the right plays at the right time and he makes the guys he plays with better. That is something that I try to bring to the floor from a veterans standpoint.”
While Irving and the 9-28 Cavaliers have shown signs of progress this season, the team is very much in a rebuilding mode and likely will be for at least two or three more seasons. Livingston likes what he sees with this team and he hopes he can be an integral part of the rebuilding process in Cleveland and part of the franchise’s long-term plan.
“[The Cavaliers] have some young guys who are getting better every day,” Livingston said. “This team is learning how to play and win games. I hope to be a part of that [rebuilding process], helping this team develop their young guys and really turning this thing around. I think we can do what teams like Portland did and what Oklahoma City is currently doing.”
In order for the Cavaliers to duplicate the success that the Oklahoma City Thunder has had, they are going to need to get lucky in future drafts. But the Cavs can also benefit from having a veteran like Livingston around. He gives them a playmaker who produces in limited minutes on the court while also bringing a veteran presence in the locker room.