A busy first day of NBA free agency wasn’t about the superstars, but about the guys who help them out. The Golden State Warriors got the backup point guard they wanted with Shaun Livingston while the Washington Wizards re-signed and kept center Marcin Gortat. The Detroit Pistons liked Jodie Meeks enough to give him a three-year contract.
LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are the top news everywhere, but it’s going to take some time before we learn whether they’re going or staying. Meanwhile, teams without a shot to land the duo have their own business to take care of, and with the Warriors thinking about retooling to keep their window of competing in the West a legitimate one, they addressed one of their bigger needs – adding a solid backup to Stephen Curry.
Livingston wasn’t exactly a point guard last season. He played next to Deron Williams and sometimes instead of him. He was even a small forward when the Nets went extra small. His length and defensive abilities make him very useful in more than one way. After an injury almost ended his career not too long ago, Livingston is back as a legitamate, useful and desirable role player in the league. Not quite the next Magic Johnson, but still in a very good place.
The Warriors, not exactly affluent in cap space, used the full mid-level exception on Livingston, who’ll make just over $5 million in each of the next three seasons. He averaged 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists last season for the Nets, starting in 54 out of 76 games, averaging 26 minutes a night. He’ll be entering his 10th season in the league, missing the entire 2007-2008 season.
But it’s not all about changing places. Marcin Gortat got the treatment most useful big men in the NBA get, which equals getting overpaid. Just like Nikola Pekovic last year with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Gortat gets a deal that gives him $12 million a season, signing for five years and $60 million without a player or team option on the final year of the deal, which means he’ll be 35 when it’s over with the Wizards.
The Polish center averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds as he helped the Wizards make the playoffs for the first time in six years, producing similar numbers in the playoffs as the Wizards made the conference semifinals. He formed a formidable frontcourt duo along with Nene, and after keeping him the Wizards move on to securing the future of Trevor Ariza on the team, who probably won’t be paid as much as he’d like to be.
The Detroit Pistons seemed to love the numbers Jodie Meeks put up in the Mike D’Antoni system which usually inflates statistics, especially on a contract season. Meeks signed a three-year deal worth $19 million with the Pistons following a 15.7 points campaign from him, including 40.7% from beyond the arc. If there’s one thing the Pistons need is some shooting, and hopefully they didn’t overpay for it in order to get Meeks.