LOS ANGELES: The Washington Wizards were the worst team in the league and in desperate need of a point guard, yet still chose to release Shaun Livingston just two days before Christmas. John Wall was still weeks from returning and his backup, A.J. Price, was out with a broken hand.
Yet the woeful Wizards still thought so little of Livingston that they thought they didn’t need him. That type of rejection can shake any player’s confidence — including Livingston.
“That’s one way to look at it. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t cross my mind,” Livingston said Sunday. “Here I am with the worst team … but honestly, the major thought was that it could be a blessing in disguise.”
Livingston has found a fit with Byron Scott, who thinks so highly of him that he bounced Jeremy Pargo from his rotation immediately after Livingston’s first practice and now has benched veteran Daniel Gibson to keep Livingston in the rotation.
Scott has been a big proponent of Gibson since he took this job and deserves credit for revitalizing Gibson’s career, but he has elected to stick with Livingston at least for now.
“It’s a matter of him being out for so long with the concussion and these guys (Livingston and Dion Waiters) playing pretty well together,” Scott said. “I’m going to ease (Gibson) back in unless one of these guys starts to play bad, then I’ll bring him back sooner than later.”
Scott said he didn’t think Livingston’s release by the Wizards was a red flag and didn’t think much of it. He received a glowing review from Sam Cassell, Livingston’s former teammate with the Clippers, on Christmas night and Scott himself has always loved Livingston’s game.
“I think there are a lot of other variables that go into it when guys can play like he can play at that position get cut,” Scott said. “Sam loves him. I respect Sam big time. He feels that the guy can play and so do I.”
In six games with the Cavs, Livingston entered Sunday averaging 4.3 points and 2.8 assists while shooting 46 percent.
“It all depends on results at the end of the day,” Livingston said. “At this stage of my career, it’s really about helping my team win games. It’s not about getting better. You can always get better and work on your individual game, but once you’re nine years in the league, you’re a veteran who has to try and help your team win games.”
Not there yet
For all the things Kyrie Irving does well on the court, Scott doesn’t feel his competitiveness is on the same level as Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul.
Scott nicknamed Paul the “Silent Assassin” the first day he met him and Bryant’s competitive nature is well documented. Irving isn’t there yet, but Scott thinks that killer mentality can be developed. Scott called Paul the most competitive player he’s ever been around as a player or coach.
“I think you can develop it, it comes with time,” Scott said. “It’s just like everything else. Once you gain that type of experience, you can have that. When (Paul) gets you on the court, he will do whatever it takes to win the basketball game. I don’t know if Kyrie’s there yet. Can he get there? Yeah.”
The Cavaliers will make perhaps their final appearance in Sacramento, Calif., tonight. The Kings are for sale and rumored to be heading to Seattle next season if a deal can soon be consummated.
The Cavs are 14-11 all time at Sleep Train Arena and 53-53 against the Kings franchise.
It will mark Omri Casspi’s first game back in Sacramento since the organization traded him to the Cavaliers the day before the lockout began in the summer of 2011.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.