This is my Tuesday column on what the Shaun Livingston signing means to the Warriors. WARNING: This is a basketball column. Forty-Niners fans, feel free to skip this.
Jerry West won Round 1, Bob Myers won Round 2.
According to reports, the Warriors’ front office is divided against itself. They were willing to include Klay Thompson in a trade for Kevin Love in June, Love a superstar, Thompson a role player. A good trade for the Warriors.
West doesn’t think so. He prefers Thompson, who commits himself to defense, over Love, who doesn’t. Steve Kerr concurs.
So, no deal so far.
We would understand if Myers gave up pursuing Love, threw in the towel, once West entered the ring. Good luck facing down The Logo, Bobby.
Forget the towel. Myers just cornered West and landed a liver shot.
Myers agreed to sign Shaun Livingston Tuesday evening to a three-year, $16 million contract. The signing will become official on July 10 at the earliest, after the NBA Moratorium on signings and trades is over.
Why is Livingston a liver shot to West?
The Pro-Thompson argument goes like this: Thompson is tall for his position – 6-7 – and he’s a good defender, and he’s a good shooter. Not many guards currently have all three of those attributes.
Livingston has two. He can defend and he’s 6-7, the same height as Thompson.
Livingston can’t shoot 3s, though. He attempted just six 3s and made one last season, while Thompson attempted 535 3s and made 223. Three-point shooting is the main thing Thompson has over Livingston.
And youth. Thompson is 24. Livingston is 28 and he mangled his knee seven years ago, although the knee seems fine these days.
Does Livingston have anything over Thompson? Yes, at least two things.
Livingston is a better rebounder than Thompson. Livingston grabbed 7.5 percent of the Nets’ total rebounds last season. Thompson grabbed just 4.7 percent of the Warriors’ rebounds. For a tall guard, Thompson is a bad rebounder.
A poor passer, too. Thompson’s assist percentage was 10.2 last season. Livingston’s assist percentage – 20.1 – almost doubled Thompson’s.
Livingston is a point guard. A 6-7 point guard, much rarer than a 6-7 shooting guard, which is what Thompson is.
Livingston will complement Curry. Thompson doesn’t. Thompson stinks at setting up teammates to score. He needs a teammate to set him up. Sometimes he forces his own shot even if Curry, the best shooter in the world, is open.
Livingston can run the Warriors’ offense and allow Curry to play off the ball, run around screens and catch and shoot. Livingston also can defend the opponents’ best guard so Curry doesn’t have to.
Livingston makes Thompson expendable to the Warriors.
Wouldn’t you have loved to watch Round 2 live? I’m talking the moment Myers told West that the Warriors were going to sign Livingston. In my imagination, Round 2 went down like this:
Myers calls West into his office, the lights dim and orange and the blinds closed, West wearing a black three-piece suit and stroking a white cat.
Myers says, “Jerry, thanks for taking the time to see me, your time being so valuable. Sure, I’m the general manager and you’re just a consultant. But we both know you have the most juice in this organization, far more juice than I have. You’re Jerry Freaking West” – laying it on thick – “The Logo, one of the greatest basketball players ever, a two-time winner of the NBA Executive of the Year Award. You were a general manager when I still was in grammar school.”
West nods, wondering where Myers is going with this.
“I understand how much you value tall guards who defend well,” says Myers, “That is why I just signed Shaun Livingston. Your basketball wisdom inspired me to sign him. You get all of the credit, Jerry. Livingston is exactly what you want next to Curry. Thank you for opening my eyes to Livingston and tall guards like him.”
West smiles and gets up to leave.
“One more thing,” Myers says, like it just popped into his head. “Now that we have Livingston, what do we need Thompson for? We don’t need two tall guards. Let’s trade Thompson to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. Great idea, right?”
West winces. A bell rings, trainers pop out and douse West and Myers with water and cover their faces with Vaseline while shouting encouragement: “He’s a bum!” That’s how it happens in my imagination.
The trainers disappear. Round 3 will begin any moment. Will West answer the bell?
Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for The Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.