UPDATED (to clean up stream of consciousness writing)
Bobcats reach deal with PG Shaun Livingston from the AP. The article says the two sides agreed to a 2-year deal for $7 million – or approximately half of what Raymond Felton is getting in New York. I know that is what some people are going to wonder: How does Shaun compare to Ray and wouldn't it have been better to spend a bit more?
Well, Livingston is a former lottery pick like Raymond – the 4th overall pick in 2004 in fact(part of the trade up the Bobcats did to get Emeka Okafor). While Raymond has been Mr. Dependable, playing nearly every game in his career, Shaun has missed a full season due to the knee injury he suffered against the Bobcats back in 2007. Since then, he has bounced around a bit, with time in Miami, Oklahoma City, and Washington. Washington was his last stop, as he finished this past season there, starting 18 games for them.
As a Wizard, Shaun averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 assists per game. But that was in limited time – per 40 minutes, those numbers are 14.4 and 6.9. For comparisons sake, Ray's per 40 numbers for last year: 14.6 and 6.7. Hmm – interesting. Point in Livingston's favor is his superior fg% and points per shot marks – 53.5% from the field for 1.30 points per attempt – to 45.6% and 1.14 for Raymond.
However, the aforementioned knee injury is a detriment in multiple ways – for one, Shaun lacks Ray's durability (not the only time he has missed in his career) and may have to miss some practices and limit his game time due to knee soreness going forward. For another – Livingston is not the same athlete he once was. How is he going to be defensively? I have to admit some concern here – his defensive numbers last year were brutal. Looking at Shaun's numbers from last year, we see an aggregate opponent that really attacked him: His man scored 26 points per 100 team possessions, up from an expected mark of 21.7, while posting a PER of 19.87 (expected of 15.66).
Can Shaun handle defensive responsibilities on some of the league's premier point men? I suppose Larry Brown thinks so, as I doubt the Cats would sign a second defensive liability of a point to back up their other, in D.J. Augustin. One final note in Livingston's defense: He was starting at the end of the season, when the Wizards had thrown in the towel and went on a 16 game losing streak – so maybe he was not totally at fault as defense is a team concept.
To the other concern listed above: Would the Bobcats have been better served to spend a bit more? Well, as James pointed out on twitter today, the Bobcats payroll is a bit bloated. At HoopsHype the Cats are listed as the team with the 4th highest payroll in the league at over $71 million – while the site does not have all signings up to date and some numbers off for the Bobcats, it still shows them as being a bit higher up the salary scale than their performance would indicate. Signing Livingston for half the cost of Felton is one of controlling costs. But they also realized that Raymond just is not quite good enough – just think back to the way he got abused in the playoffs.
Is Livingston the answer? Maybe but even if he is not, at least he is not an expensive incorrect answer like Raymond had become. I know that sounds harsh – but the Bobcats had already overpaid for one of their own previously in re-signing Emeka Okafor and I am glad they learned from that mistake – one they are still working to undo. As much as fans want to think only about winning – there remains a business side to all this and if $3.5 million fewer dollars get a player who may be able to approximate the output of a more expensive option, that will be the choice made unless a team is contending for a title.
Wrapping up: Shaun Livingston is now a Charlotte Bobcat, competing for the starting spot. Livingston is a talented player coming back from injury, with very good size for the position, providing a nice foil to D.J. Augustin. He shoots the ball and takes shots he can make – Larry Brown will enjoy the fact that Shaun will not shoot from deep, with just 6 attempts all of last season. If healthy, Livingston will have been a good signing for the Bobcats. If healthy.