After the Cavaliers claimed Shaun Livingston off waivers from the Washington Wizards on Christmas Day, Livingston’s first game as a member of the Cavs was against the Wizards.
Now that Livingston is the starting point guard for the foreseeable future given Kyrie Irving’s injury, it only makes sense that Livingston’s first start also came against the Wizards on Tuesday.
“Victim of circumstances. It’s one of those ironic seasons I guess,” Livingston said. “Just another chapter in my crazy book. I’m good with that.”
It’s clear Livingston didn’t enjoy his time in Washington. He had been there once before, but when the Rockets released him at the end of training camp, the Wizards again inquired early in the season. With few other options available, Livingston agreed to return to the Wizards.
“Probably one of the worst spots I’ve been in my career,” Livingston said of his time in Washington. “At the same time, it’s been a godsend here.”
Livingston said he’s a cerebral player who didn’t have the right pieces around him in Washington, and the lack of structure within the Wizards didn’t help him. It’s why he never thought his career was over after the Wizards released him in December.
“I knew it wasn’t necessarily the best fit for me,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just about the fit. … I’m not a guy who goes out and gets 30 a game. I’m trying to make guys better and it just wasn’t bonding.”
Livingston has enjoyed his time in Cleveland and coach Byron Scott conceded he has been a fan of Livingston’s for years, but it’s doubtful at this point Livingston returns next season.
He has rejuvenated his career in Cleveland and will likely receive interest from other teams. He has made it clear he will play for the highest bidder next season, and that probably won’t be the Cavs.
Until then, Livingston will have perhaps the final 19 games this season to prove to teams he is worth more than a veteran’s minimum deal next year.
“It’s a blessing that he’s healthy and playing well,” Scott said. “He stuck with it through all the hard times that he’s had to face with the surgery and the [knee] injury that he had. To be able to be back at this point in his career is unbelievable. It just shows the type of courage and grit and determination that he has as a basketball player.”
Practice what you preach
Livingston is one of the veterans who wasn’t very happy with the way the Cavs have performed in third quarters recently. Now he gets the chance to do something about it. As a reserve, Livingston rarely played in third quarters because Scott’s rotation typically left him on the bench until the start of the fourth quarter. Irving usually plays the entire first and third quarters.
The Cavs have been outplayed and lost numerous games with sloppy and lethargic third quarters lately, leaving some of the veterans on the team aggravated.
“We’re 60 games in and you want to see progress, and the types of efforts we’ve been giving after halftime, that’s not progression, it’s regression,” Livingston said. “That’s not playoff basketball. I’ve been fortunate enough to play in the playoffs and the veterans that I played with, that was something they showed me as far as the intensity level, the effort that it takes to win games. That’s not going to get it done.”
The Cavs began Tuesday with the fourth-worst record in the league and have no realistic chance at the playoffs, but veterans like Livingston and Luke Walton are trying to at least instill that type of mentality. Livingston hopes his starting role will increase his voice in the third quarter.
“It helps because you can lead more so by example than just talking it through,” he said.
Omri Casspi was cleared to return to practice following his appendectomy. He dressed and was available on Tuesday.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.