Longtime scout Herb Livsey a key part of Nuggets' draft preparation

by Aaron Lopez

When Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly turns to Herb Livsey on draft night, the longtime NBA scout will be ready to respond with a definitive answer.

“I never ride the fence,” Livsey said. “I have an opinion as to whether (a draft prospect) can play for (coach) Brian Shaw or he can’t. He either can be a Denver Nugget or he can’t. There’s nothing in the middle.”

Whether he’s observing a player for several days at a college practice in Kentucky (as he did with Kenneth Faried) or watching a game in the rural Midwest, Livsey trusts the instincts that have served him well for nearly two decades as a pro scout and three-plus decades as a college coach.

“It’s my eyes and my ears,” Livsey said, prompting visions of Clint Eastwood in Trouble with the Curve. “I know a lot of people because I’ve been in the game for so long. I absolutely love basketball. I love scouting and I’m really appreciative of this new young staff. They allow me to be the scout I need to be in order to do my job effectively.”

When Connelly took over as Denver’s general manager/executive vice president of basketball operations 10 days before the draft last summer, Livsey was uncertain about his future.

He had joined the Nuggets in 2008 after scouting for the Atlanta Hawks (2004-08) and the Portland Trail Blazers (1998-2004). Connelly and team president Josh Kroenke retained Livsey after making several changes throughout the front office.

“I’m glad I stayed because I really like Tim and Josh,” Livsey said. “Josh is a president who knows basketball. I like to be around people who know the game.”

Few people know the game better than Livsey, who coached high school and college basketball in California and Arizona for 37 years before joining the Continental Basketball Association as a player development director in 1996.

At 78, he doesn’t know how much longer he will stay in the NBA, but he will fully enjoy draft night regardless of who the Nuggets select.

“I have a philosophy,” Livsey said. “The coaching staff’s job is the next game and our job is the next roster. No matter who they pick, I have no agenda. It’s their call, not my call. I gave them all the information they wanted. Whoever they pick, I walk out of that room 100 percent behind that draft pick.”