John Wall is a high concern for the Wizards. John Wall’s backup — whether Wall is healthy or injured — is a high concern for the Wizards. So much of a concern that they made a calculated decision to sign A.J. Price as backup in late July, which is way early in the time allowed to make roster decisions before the season. John Lucas III got more money from the Toronto Raptors, Keyon Dooling ultimately retired, and it didn’t look like the Houston Rockets would be parting ways with Shaun Livingston, at the time. What other backup point guard options were there?
And then Wall goes and gets injured. Timing is everything.
To compensate, the Wizards signed the 32-year old Jannero Pargo, and ultimately cut their 34th overall 2011 draft pick, Shelvin Mack, after training camp and preseason. About Pargo, the ever-lurking John Hollinger writes in his 2012-13 season preview on ESPN Insider:
Pargo played well for Atlanta last season but obviously his combination of age (32) and track record make him a somewhat risky investment. That said, this was by far the best point guard candidate left on the market and Washington did well to get him so inexpensively. I’d argue he was a better solution than Price, in fact.
A.J. Price has been much better in the preseason, in fact, and will be the opening night starter in Wall’s absence. But now Shaun Livingston is available. And he would be perfect for the Wizards, with or without John Wall. Awkward.
Resulting from their trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Rockets have waived Livingston, saving them $2.5 million, to get their roster to 15 players. But here stands Washington, after investing development time in Pargo (who’s somehow managing to salvage an NBA career), after cutting a recent high second round draft pick, after keeping Earl Barron because of unpredictable health from the team’s highest paid player, Nene. Here stands Washington, ready to open the season in Cleveland.
And here stands Shaun Livingston, one-time Wizard. The NBA feel-good story who rekindled his career in Washington, D.C. The point guard who has continued to prove post-”the injury” success during stops in Charlotte and Milwaukee since leaving Washington, where he fell victim to a numbers game with Wall, Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich on the 2010 roster. Man, the Wizards could really use an offensively capable and willing passer like Shaun Livingston right now, who once again is caught in a numbers game, but likely to clear waivers with a choice to sign anywhere he wants.
“The biggest thing is he’s got a very high basketball I.Q. He seems to calm everybody down a little bit when he’s on the floor,” once said former Wizards coach Flip Saunders about Livingston. Hard to tell if Pargo does any calming-down on the court, if not the opposite.
“And he’s got great size so when things break down he’s has the ability to back somebody down and get a shot off,” said Saunders of the 6-foot-7 27-year old Livingston. The 6-foot-1 Pargo can get off a high-arcing runner or a long, contested jumper (likely, after a bunch of dribbles). OK, so Livingston is not a 3-point shooter like Pargo (who averaged just under six turnovers per 36 minutes in the preseason), but Livingston so much more. And Wizards team brass knows it.
Damn, timing is everything.
What’s an Ernie Grunfeld to do?
Shaun Livingston crazy shot vs Dwight Howard:
And the shot from another angle:
Shaun Livingston, a dunk vs the Knicks:
And the other angle: