Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) congratulates teammate Shaun Livingston (34) after a basket against the Houston Rockets during the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the first round of the NBA Western Conference playoffs at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, April 18, 2016. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
HOUSTON — Warriors point guard Shaun Livingston expressed a desire Thursday to return to the team next season and beyond.
“I want to stay here as long as I can,” Livingston said. “It’s a unique and special situation. A lot of guys including myself, I want to here for as long as I possibly can depending on the contract situation.”
The Warriors signed Livingston to a three-year, $16 million contract, with a team option for the 2016-17 season that includes partially guaranteed money — a buyout in the unlikely scenario he isn’t retained.
Warriors general manager Bob Myers strongly indicated the team would pick up that option after Livingston as the backup to Stephen Curry averaged 6.3 points and 3 assists in a second straight season of playing 78 games.
“It’s a good deal for us, and we see him in our future,” Myers told 95.7 The Game on Wednesday.
Golden State Warriors’ Shaun Livingston (34) looks to pass against New Orleans Pelicans’ Toney Douglas (16) in the second quarter at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, March 14, 2016. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)
While Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was on his way to a 60-point night in the final game of his career, even the Warriors couldn’t turn away from going on despite their games being played at the same time Wednesday.
“Man, I was checking his stats at halftime, at halftime of our game,” Warriors guard Shaun Livingston told ESPN Peoria on Thursday. “I mean, seriously. It was that serious. I had to know. Kobe, he’s the greatest player that I ever faced. He’s the hardest player that I ever had to guard. I’m not ashamed to say that he gave us (Los Angeles Clippers in a 2006 game) 50, and I took the majority of that 50.
“Just knowing the type of competitor he is, I mean, he’s the closest thing I think that we’ll ever see to Michael Jordan, and he is our generation’s Michael Jordan. What he was able to with the game of basketball and how he was able to evolutionize the game for the new generation and for the kids is truly amazing. And it’s truly an honor to be able to face him for the 11, 12 years that I had in the NBA. So shoutout to Kobe Bryant, and Mamba Day, and what a way to go out with 60 points.”
Both teams went on to attention-getting wins, with Bryant going out in style and the Warriors winning their NBA-record 73rd of the season.
Warriors center Jason Thompson dressed up as Santa Claus on Tuesday to help spread holiday cheer in Oakland.
Thompson treated 50 underserved youths to a holiday shopping spree at Walmart, with each child receiving a gift card. In all, more than $8,000 was spent in under two hours.
Thompson was one of many of the Warriors out in the community that day. The Warriors’ staff unveiled the revamped Covenant House California, a homeless shelter that serves at-risk 18- to 24-year-olds. Shaun Livingston was there at the event, and Draymond Green later treated them to a shopping spree at Target in Emeryville.
Livingston said that as soon as they saw the players, their eyes lit up.
“You see the rooms that they have, that they’re staying in,” Livingston said. “They’re already small. They’re staying on like cots. And then you just do a little bit, and it goes a long way for them. It just puts everything in perspective. We’re all blessed. We all should be grateful for what we have because there’s always somebody out there that’s probably struggling more.”
The Golden State Warriors’ Shaun Livingston (34) plays touch defense against the Houston Rockets’ Corey Brewer (33) in the second quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, May 19, 2015. (Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)
MINNEAPOLIS – Warriors guard Shaun Livingston will never forget how coach Flip Saunders helped revive his career.
Livingston had gotten waived by the Oklahoma City Thunder before the Washington Wizards signed him in 2010. Saunders gave him more than just a shot to play in Washington. Livingston became a regular starter with the Wizards and for the first time since suffering his major knee injury.
“After playing the season with him, I just felt like I understood the NBA game, and that was the first time I really understood it,” Livingston said of Saunders. “I always had a high IQ, but just as far as time and score and just as a pro, he was a guard’s coach.
“He gave me the opportunity to implant me back into the NBA. Just to be somewhat relevant again…he gave me an opportunity. He blessed me an opportunity and allowed me to a chance to make the most of it.”
Livingston called Saunders an offensive genius and said the coach put him in the post a lot and influenced him to start implementing that part of his game. These days, Warriors fans can see that using his 6-foot-7 frame to back down defenders is among Livingston’s go-to moves.
Five years after Livingston started 18 of 26 games for the Wizards, he became an NBA champion in June. Two weeks ago, Saunders died at age 60 after a battle with cancer. In his last year of coaching, Saunders returned to the bench with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who the Warriors play Thursday.
“He is definitely special, a special part of my journey,” Livingston said.
Shaun Livingston is a Warriors guard who is not a threat from 3-point range and missed both of his attempts from long distance last season.
But that could change at a time when the Warriors are looking for a shooter off the bench.
“We’ve got Shaun Livingston shooting threes too now,” Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton told Sirius XM on Thursday. “He worked on his three all summer long, and I’m telling you, it looked good. Don’t be surprised when you see ‘em falling this year.”
Livingston in his 10-year career has made a grand total of 10 3-pointers, but has shown a willingness to work on that missing part of his game.
“I was on Shaun all last year in a joking manner because he’d make corner threes all the time in practice, and I just kept saying, ‘2015!’” coach Steve Kerr said. “He’d hear me out of the corner of the gym, and he’d look over and smile.
“I think both Shaun and Mo (Speights) are capable of making corner threes. It’s not something I’m going to insist on, I’m going to encourage them to try. But we have good balance. We have a lots of 3-point shooting. If we could get those guys to make corner threes, it’d be a huge bonus, but it’s not necessary.”