The biggest weakness for the Golden State Warriors this past season was the inept play of their bench. The Warriors took the first step in rectifying the issue on Tuesday, the official start of free agency, by reaching an agreement with point guard Shaun Livingston.
Golden State owned one of the league’s worst benches last season. The Warriors reserves finished last in field-goal percentage (.408), 29th in assists (5.2), 24th in points (27.9) and 23rd in efficiency (30.9). The starters, on the other hand, finished second in assists (18.1) and were fifth in field-goal percentage (.485), points (76.4) and efficiency (88.6).
The 28-year-old Livingston is coming off a season where he averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 assists, 1.4 turnovers and 1.2 steals in 76 games with the Brooklyn Nets. Livingston started 54 games and averaged 9.1 points on 47.6 percent shooting. What must be encouraging for Warriors fans is that Livingston averaged 6.2 points on 51.0 percent shooting in the 22 games he came off the bench.
Brooklyn, despite a 5-14 start, finished 44-38 and made the Eastern Conference playoffs as a six seed. The Nets went on to beat the Toronto Raptors in the first round before losing to the Miami Heat in the semifinals. Livingston averaged 9.7 points on 51.2 percent shooting and 3.3 assists in the playoffs.
The 6-foot-7 Livingston will serve as All-Star Stephen Curry’s primary backup. But he will also play alongside Curry and spelling Klay Thompson in the process. With Livingston being a solid and versatile defender, new Warriors coach Steve Kerr should have no problem putting him and Curry on the court at the same time.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the agreement Tuesday afternoon. According to Wojnarowski, the Warriors will use their full mid-level exception (3 years, $16 million) to sign Livingston. Although the signing will not be made official until the moratorium period ends on July 10, Livingston (@ShaunLivingston) confirmed the news with a tweet later in the day.
Thank you Brooklyn for embracing me….Golden State, excited to be part of the movement!!! #GSWarriors #calibound
Livingston made the jump from high school to the NBA and was drafted fourth overall in 2004 by the Los Angeles Clippers. The Illinois native’s career was starting to blossom before suffering a devastating injury on Feb. 26, 2007. Livingston would miss the next one and a half seasons and did not come close to playing a full slate of games until almost four years later with the Charlotte Bobcats. His story of perseverance will make him a fan-favorite with Warriors fans immediately.