Livingston, Blatche Sign to Play in the Postseason
Thursday afternoon, the Nets announced the signings of center Andray Blatche and point guard Shaun Livingston, and each player participated in a conference call. Blatche, who joined the Nets last season on an non-guaranteed veteran's minimum deal, averaged 10.3 points (career-best .512 FG%) and 5.1 rebounds in 19.0 minutes backing up starter Brook Lopez. The 27-year-old opted to return because of his comfort level with the organization and his belief that last season's playoff appearance was only the beginning:
"My decision was that much easier," Blatche said. "This is the team I was with last year. I felt comfortable with the whole organization and the moves that we made. I feel we made a big step to make our team a team that can win the championship and I want to be a part of that."
So did ninth-year veteran Livingston, who has played in the playoffs just once: 2005-06 with the Clippers. Selected No. 4 overall out of Peoria Central (Ill.) High School in 2004, Livingston suffered a traumatic knee injury during his third season, one that caused him to miss the entire 2007-08 campaign. Though the recovery was gradual, Livingston recast himself as a productive backup point guard, averaging 6.3 points and 3.3 assists in 66 games for Washington and Cleveland last season.
"The situation in Brooklyn, it’s a great opportunity for me and it’s an attractive situation," Livingston said. "Most importantly, I'll have the ability to be competitive, right away. As well as the opportunity to play for and learn from one of the greatest point guards to play in Jason Kidd in his first opportunity to coach. And also to play with Deron Williams, one of the better point guards in the league."
Here are more highlights from the pair of phoners:
On coming to a quick agreement:
"The whole Brooklyn organization, they took me in last year when I was down and out and it was more loyalty shown for me. They helped me out and they gave me a chance and I wanted to show my loyalty back.
"The organization, it’s behind the players. Everything is for the players first, all the way up to (General Manager Billy King). Billy is a great guy. He believes in me. There’s so much going on in the organization that I felt comfortable coming back. Hopefully I’ll be here for a while."
On his conversation with Coach Kidd:
"It was more like just like basically telling me what my role would be like, what my minutes would be like, what’s expected of me. Everything he said, I pretty much tended to agree with him about it. So he also made my decision easier."
On his career progression:
"I still don’t feel that I’ve reached my full potential. I still haven’t reached a certain amount of the goals I set for myself as a player. But the thing about it is, it’s never too late. Thank God I still have the opportunity to be in the league for another season. I’m just going to work hard and hopefully continue to have success."
On his conversation with Coach Kidd:
"It really wasn’t a hard sell. It was just more so how they wanted to play and where they saw me fitting into the team, fitting into the system, my role on the team. It’s a very attractive situation. To be able to play with Hall of Famers, a Hall of Fame player who’s a coach now, it’s a great opportunity for me to continue to learn and to expand my journey.
On his expected role:
"I think just really trying to relieve a lot of stress and minutes off of Deron, game-in, game-out, through the wear-and-tear of the season. Just come in and bringing more of a steady hand running the offense, being able to use my versatility and my size, also to defend multiple positions, and being able to slide over to maybe the shooting guard – more on the defensive end than on on the offensive end. But also relieving some ball-handling duties as well.
On his playoff ambitions:
"That’s some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing basketball. Because of the competitiveness, it’s just a different game. It’s almost like night and day from the season, because everything’s magnified, everything’s under the microscope, all the little things, having the whole city behind your back. It’s great. That’s where every team strives to be in and that was the most fun I’ve had playing, so I just loved the atmosphere, I loved the opportunity to compete and to compete at the highest level."
On reinventing his game:
"Absolutely I had to – I relied a lot on my speed, quickness and athleticism at an early age, because I was still learning the game; but it did make the game easier. Since the injury, I’ve really had to slow down my game, really think the game through and find a niche. That’s how you can create longevity for yourself in a career."