Livingston deal sets the stage

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.

Liver shot.

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

This article has 28 Comments

  1. Grant, nice piece of writing. Although I disagree that Thompson is merely a role player. Thompson is one of the best two way players in the nba. The guy drops 18-20 a game and defends the opponents best player every night. He is only 24 and he is getting better every year. He will be the best two guard in the game within the next two years. Love is a great player but its not worth including klay in that trade. If warriors stand pat they probably can aquire love without including klay. T Wolves don’t have much leverage considering that love wants to play for the warriors plus he is a free agent in 2015.. Enjoyed reading this though grant. Thanks!

          1. Yep.
            You said you kinda wanted our team names to match our sceen names.
            Should I change it?

            1. It’s close enough. The team names need to be your screen name or like in your case be close enough that I can figure out who you are.

  2. Good stuff.

    Myers better knock the old man out. This team needs a big time scorer who is not a guard and can pick up the slack when the shots aren’t falling for Curry.

  3. Don’t forget how valuable 3 point shooting is. Go back and check round 2 Nets v. Heat. The Heat didn’t really guard Livingston because he can’t shoot. I like the Livingston signing in general, but he doesn’t replace Klay. He is that necessary backup point that can come in and as you said move Steph off the ball. But you will have a hard time closing games with Livingston because of his shooting. If you think the Niners O would be clogged without Vernon, Livingston’s lack of 3 point shooting is also a clogger.

  4. Your ‘fight’ metaphor is interestign, but did you consider that West’s comment regarding Klay might have been for public consumption to drive up his value? I don’t mind including Klay in a deal for Love as long as they don’t take back Martin’s deal. I think the Martin contract is the dealbreaker currently.

      1. Grant. Coming from a fellow Bruins perspective; what are your thoughts about LaVine playing the same amount of minutes as Alfords son. Where does Bruin bball head from here with Alford as head coach.

        As for the Warriors, I prefer keeping Klay and feel they can get Love with a different package, but the other concern is how much Klay wants to get paid.

        1. Excellent point regarding Klay’s future deal. Considering that Eric Gordon got 60M/4 years, Tyreke got 44M/4, and Marcin Gortat just got 60M/5, I don’t see how Klay doesn’t get the 60M/4 “max” offer sheet next offseason as a restricted free agent. That number is the only reason I would think about trading Klay.

          Think about that again, Marcin Gortat just got a better contract than
          Sherman or Thomas. The NBA is truly FAN-tastic!

  5. Nice piece Grant, pretty funny. Thompson has a healthier body and still has a huge upside. Let’s see if Livingston can stay healthy . I would love for you to write a column about your thoughts on Marleau and Thornton but I would expect Sharks interest is pretty low interest where you are and I might be the only one reading it. Hey at least the Sharks are getting ice girls.

    1. lol , why would I ever expect a response from Grant, played the same card too often, like take away Montana 4 Super Bowls, he would of been a ordinary QB.

  6. Livingston is NOT a contingency plan for losing Klay, period.
    I mean, even WITH Love, where does all of those points come from if Klay’s not putting up 15-20 a night and launching 3’s from outer space?
    Do you think that a combo of Love/Livingston scores more than Lee/Thompson?
    No way.
    Would the defense improve?
    No way.
    SactoGreg is right on the money here.
    Miami basically let Livingstion run free on the offensive side because he’s not a threat.
    Question: what other team has two guys in the backcourt that can shoot like that???
    They’re a NIGHTMARE for opposing defenses.
    To me, Livingston’s length and skill set make him versatile to back up both guard positions and that’s where his value is.
    But replace Klay???
    Every other team would BEG for that to happen.

  7. Good article Grant. Its an interesting dynamic where the “consultant” has more juice than the GM but no one can argue with JW’s results.Despite the contract Livingston is a backup tho. A better version of Jarret Jack where jack was a defender and a slasher and livingston is a passer and can defend. With Barnes’ lack of perimeter game the second unit could find itself operating in very congested spaces as green isnt much of a shooter either. Ultimately they can afford to wait for Love in FA. they wont have to give up assets (that weaken their team) and structure the financial side around Steph Clay and Love

  8. My 8 year old and I are huge Warior fans! Loved this article, You tied in Logo”old bond bad guy images” stroking white cat with a touch of Austin Powers, I still hope we keep Clay but I understand both arguments. Team does look pretty good, It does give them flexability! Keep these articles coming! Have a great and safe 4th of July!

  9. Here are the FACTS!

    1. I played an 82 game season on NBA2K14 with the Lee/Thompson Warriors, I went 82-0 and averaged 126 points per game.

    2. I then played a season after trading Lee & Thompson for Love & Barea, 82-0 again … my starting lineup of Bogut, Love, Iggy, Barnes, Curry … went 82-0 and averaged 134 points per game.

    That’s all Myers & West need to know.

  10. Grant completely missed the financial implications of keeping Klay. If Klay stays and signs a contract close the max deal he is seeking, he will make several million dollars more than Curry which will no doubt upset him and force him to leave in 2016. Klay should be traded to the T Wolves who can give him his max contract and can afford to take on Lee’s overpriced contract. With Thompson’s and Lee’s contracts off the books, the Dubs could afford to sign Love long-term. Grant’s whole punch-counter punch fantasy has no basis in any real reporting or fact. For more in depth analysis of the Thompson situation, read any number of articles from Zac Lowe over at Grantland. This was a really poor effort.

  11. Grant,

    I get what you’re saying, but I think the conclusion you’re reaching assumes the W’s don’t have plans A, B, C, etc.

    I believe their plan A is to land Love, while keeping Thompson. In this scenario Livingston is the perfect compliment to both Curry AND Thompson.

    I think the Warrior’s plan B, is to acquire Love for Thompson and Lee, while not taking back Kevin Martin.

    As for plan C, etc., who knows (Channing Frye, maybe?). One think I’m sure of, the alternate plans are in place, and this makes me feel very good about the W’s.

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