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Shaun Livingston discusses his future, Al Thornton to return against Magic

Wizards (24-53) at Magic (54-23)

Wizards starters: Shaun Livingston, Mike Miller, Nick Young, Andray Blatche, Fabricio Oberto

Magic: Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard

Line: Magic by 13.5

The Wizards signed Shaun Livingston six weeks ago unaware of what he could still do in this league, but they have been rewarded for their minimal investment. With the Wizards lacking depth at point guard - and with Randy Foye suffering a season-ending wrist injury - Livingston has taken advantage of his increased playing time and gained more confidence.

"That's why I chose to come here, to get the opportunity and make the most of it," Livingston said. "It's worked out well so far. I hope that I can finish strong."

Livingston had 18 points and eight assists the last time he faced the Orlando Magic, a performance that secured his spot on the roster for the remainder of the season - and earned him a starting job that he has held the past 13 games. Livingston has continued to show progress each time he steps on the floor, and is averaging 16.8 points and 6.8 assists in his past four games.

"He continues to get better and better, knock on wood," Coach Flip Saunders said. "I said from the beginning that was going to happen to him. He hasn't played two and a half years competitively and coming off a major, major injury, it takes a guy time. The only way you're going to get better is to keep playing. He's always had the ability from an intellectual standpoint, the physical standpoint of understanding reads, and his ability to pass and be a leader. When you put it all together, it's a matter of him being able to hold up physically. He continues to do some of those things."

Saunders believes that the Wizards will make it a priority to retain his services when this season is over. "No question, we'd like to have him," he said. "We're feeling that this summer can be big for him, working with him, with his strength to get him back. That's one of the reasons we signed him for the year."

When asked about returning to the Wizards next season, Livingston said, "Definitely -- If I'm wanted. I hope everything works out right. I'm about winning and success. I've always based my career upon that. You got to obviously make the best decisions for your future and your career, so we'll see what happens."

Although the Wizards took a chance on him, Livingston said they don't have a particular advantage over any other team. "I appreciate it, but it's business as usual," Livingston said. "They were looking at me coming in to see if I could help them, to see what's best for their team. I got to do the same thing on my side."

Al Thornton will return for the Wizards after missing the previous seven games with a strained right hip flexor. Thornton had two workouts - in the morning and before the game - and determined that he would give it a shot.

Saunders said he wasn't sure how he would use Thornton, adding that he would be cautious with him.

The Wizards will be playing their final game at Amway Arena. The Magic will move into a new arena in downtown Orlando, Amway Center, next season.

By Michael Lee  |  April 7, 2010; 6:53 PM ET
 
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Comments

I really want to see how McGee plays this game. Howard always kills him but McGee has been crazy good since we switched the O and started bringing him off the bench. In his 5 games since the benching he's been 15.2pts, 8.4brb, and 1.8blks in just 19.2mpg. Its insane right now and I want to see if he can keep it up against Howard, Gortat, and Bass.

Posted by: dlts2041 | April 7, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

At least SL is being straight up about coming back. You'd like to think he'd give the Wiz a little extra consideration for giving him the playing time, but there's no reason to expect it. It is most definitely a business.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Dray isnt focused. 2 dumb turnovers on basic plays, gets blocked, and then takes a dumb shot. Ever since his injury he has never fully found his groove. He's had flashes but he cant recognize what he's supposed to do. Like last night against GS he starts off hot against those small guys and then starts shooting all jumpers when all he had to do was post up and back them down. Even when he did, he shot fadeaways instead of going towards the basket or straight up. Then he has Howard on him just now and pulls up for a lazy J that Howard times perfect instead of taking him off the dribble. He has to play smarter. I wont kill him all the way because I think he's hit a wall but next year I wont cut him any breaks

Posted by: dlts2041 | April 7, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Livingston said. "They were looking at me coming in to see if I could help them, to see what's best for their team. I got to do the same thing on my side."

That's smart.
Let's hope Ernie is just as smart & signs him asap.

Posted by: VBFan | April 7, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

you called it ts35

Posted by: divi3 | April 7, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

At least SL is being straight up about coming back. You'd like to think he'd give the Wiz a little extra consideration for giving him the playing time, but there's no reason to expect it. It is most definitely a business.

Posted by: ts35 | April 7, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Agreed...though I have to say he could have at least said terms being equal Wizards would get the nod. uhh...no. I would love to know what he and his agent will be looking for if he closes out strong.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | April 7, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Livingston will be back in LA, living in his Playa Del Rey house, playing for the Lakers....Phil loves big guards,,,,thanks for getting him in shape Wiz!

Posted by: bszdnva | April 7, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

If that's the position Livingston's taking (and it's absolutely the right one for him to take) then the ods of him coming back are probably pretty slim. He knows that as long as Arenas is here he'll be the starting PG and play the bulk of the minutes at the position, so if he wants a chance to play a lot his best bet is to go somewhere else.

"Livingston will be back in LA, living in his Playa Del Rey house, playing for the Lakers...."

I could see that, actually. Fisher's old, in decline, and in the last year of his deal. Farmar has a team option and neither he, Brown, or Vujacic have really distinguished themselves as potential starters.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

Could you imagine Livingston playing next to Kobe?

That might be unfair.

Posted by: elfreako | April 7, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

But, then again, playing with Kobe would be a lot like playing with Arenas, meaning he'd have to spend a lot of time off the ball, which he's not used to. Plus, while Phil does like big PGs, he likes them to be defenders and 3 pt shooters, and Livingston is neither.

So maybe not.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

It's all about the years in the deal. If Big Ern comes with a 4 or 5 year contract that might get 'er down.

I really can't see another team offering more than 3 years to him.

Posted by: elfreako | April 7, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

2 things that really make me mad about Blatche and the rest of our team: 1 is that they always fall for pump fakes. How many times does someone have to do it to you before you to stop falling for it? All we do is run out hard at shooters, they pump, and go right by us. Or under the rim they pump, we jump, and then they get an and-1. The 2nd thing that makes me mad is our guys dont finish with the left hand enough. I hate it how NBA players dont finish with the left on the left side of the basket. Blatche lacks the explosion so all he does is a reverse every time that people have now caught onto but all him and others really have to do is stay on that left side and lay it in with the left hand. 9 times out of 10 you cant be blocked that way and if they do stop it, most likely its always a foul. If you are on the left side of the rim then finish with the left hand. Work on that in the offseason because you can finish way better that way.

Posted by: dlts2041 | April 7, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

"It's all about the years in the deal. If Big Ern comes with a 4 or 5 year contract that might get 'er down."

I'm guessing that after what happened the last time he gave a player coming off a major knee injury a long-term deal that Grunfeld isn't going to make that mistake again. And if he does he's a fool.

"I really can't see another team offering more than 3 years to him."

I doubt any team offers him more than two (probably with the second one a team option). He's played nicely the last few games, but it'll likely take more than a few weeks of decent numbers on a go nowhere lottery team for him to convince anyone to give him that kind of deal, esp. with a new collective bargaining agreement and lockout on the horizon.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

"It's all about the years in the deal. If Big Ern comes with a 4 or 5 year contract that might get 'er down."

I'm guessing that after what happened the last time he gave a player coming off a major knee injury a long-term deal that Grunfeld isn't going to make that mistake again. And if he does he's a fool.

"I really can't see another team offering more than 3 years to him."

I doubt any team offers him more than two (probably with the second one a team option). He's played nicely the last few games, but it'll likely take more than a few weeks of decent numbers on a go nowhere lottery team for him to convince anyone to give him that kind of deal, esp. with a new collective bargaining agreement and lockout on the horizon.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

6' 7" point guards don't grow on trees kal.

Of course if the Wiz land Wall or Turner then Livingston may not be as important.

If they nab Cousins or Favors then signing him to a four-year deal could be crucial. He's only 25 and can operate like Penny Hardaway at times.

Posted by: elfreako | April 7, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

"6' 7" point guards don't grow on trees kal."

The value of Livingston's height in regards to his ability to play the PG position is grossly overrated, esp. when you take into account how skinny he is.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

dlts2041 & all the rest of you Blatche apologists,Why would you be inclined to EVER give Dray a break, for five years he has been what is likely the laziest player alive. Oh my boo hoo since he got hurt, if he would drag his lazy a$$ out of bed every now and again and --- easy now don't faint--- WORK OUT like a PRO should maybe he wouldn't have gotten injured in the first place. Look he has all of the tools except for one, and unfortunately it is the MAIN one that has held him back his entire career HIS HEAD. Did Steve Nash wake up with the tools Dray is blessed with,how about Jason Kidd,or Karl Malone,Charles Barkley,Wes Unseld. NO,none of them did, but this kid has all of the God given talent in the world,again except one,DRIVE, if he had 25% of MJ's drive,35% of Barkley's,40% of Malone's drive he would have broken through the top long ago. Instead he pouts,moans and feels entitled to be "World Class" yet puts in a fraction of the work required. I'll give you this,if after his spurts late this year he doesn't wake up and smell the coffee,work out,improve and frankly the man should flat out blow up, then we all will know once and for all he is and always will be Kwame 2, so sad but so true. I hope with all my heart that this young man starts to "get it" because if he does the sky is the limit and finally the Wizards will get back some payment for all they have invested,if not--well he will be yet another "if-only" youngster that blames all of his failures on someone else. Here's hoping that this youngin' finally "gets it" and reaches his full potential before it's too late. Guy's like him are one SL or Grant Hill injury away from spending the rest of their lives on a bar stool telling anyone willing(and even those unwilling) to listen how GREAT he was, and if only he hadn't been hurt he would have been the next----take your pick.Time to put up or shut up Blatche,as they say the ball is firmly in your court--do something with it,or lose it to the next guy,like
SL said it's a business. You've got to be made to get paid and time my young friend is running out quickly.

Posted by: mfowler1 | April 7, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Overrated? He was the fourth pick in the draft.

And what does being skinny have to do with anything?

Durant can't bench 200 pounds and nobody can check him.

You're out to lunch.

Posted by: elfreako | April 7, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

One of the great things about the close of this season will be not having to watch "Dribble & Shoot" Boykins play.

I do hope he is not back next season.

Posted by: bozomoeman | April 7, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Kwame and Kandi man were the 1st picks in the draft. Darko was thew second pick in the draft. Lotta f***in' good it did them. What's your point? Oh wait, you have none.

His size is overrated because it doesn't produce a major inherent advantage on either end of the floor. Will most PGs several inches shorter than him? Sure. So what? Most centers were several inches shorter than Shawn Bradley. Fat lotta good it did him, because he was too spindly to overpower them physically and lacked the skills as a post player to make up for his physical shortcomings. Same with Livingston. Good luck trying to post up fire-hydrant-with-legs PGs like Billups or Williams. On the defensive end, he's too slow to guard most starting PGS in the NBA. Can he get his numbers? Probably. but he'll give up as much or more than he's likely to get.

Durant can't be checked because of his combo of quickness, shooting ability, and skill all of which are on a level that Livingston can't dream about reaching.

You're an idiot.

Posted by: kalo_rama | April 7, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

Nick played 35 minutes and scored 21 points.

I can't believe we lost.

I'm going back to reading about the Warriors' game. It's so much more inspirational.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 7, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Javale played 17 minutes, scored ten, got a block and a rebound, plus five fouls.

How's the kid ever going to develop if Flip refuses to let him foul out of the game? Jeez louise.

Posted by: Samson151 | April 7, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

I like what I've seen from SL and would like to see him return next year to the Wiz at a fair and reasonable price. He is smart not to tip his hand before any negotiations for next season even begin. If I were in his position, I would do the same.

He is certain to be on an NBA roster next season if his play and health hold up. Hopefully the Wiz play their cards right and are able to retain him.

Posted by: bazookajoe1 | April 8, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

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