Kings (0-1) at Heat (0-1)
** 2007-08 stats **
Scoring: Kings eighth (102.5), Heat 30th (91.4)
Shooting percentage: Kings 10th (46.4), Heat 25th (44.3)
Scoring defense: Kings 24th (104.8), Heat 14th (100)
Shooting defense: Kings 22nd (46.6), Heat 25th (46.8)
Assists: Kings 29th (19.1), Heat 24th (20.5)
Turnovers: Kings 30th (16.1), Heat 20th (14.7)
Plus: Heat coverage in the Miami Herald, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Palm Beach Post.
Shaun Livingston was one of the best debate topics of free agency: No. 4 pick in 2004 at age 19, a rising talent beginning to give the Clippers a return on the investment at 21, a big point guard (6-7) who defended and went from shooting 41.4 percent as a teenage rookie to 42.7 to 46.3 in 2006-07. Major potential.
But he was also the guy with the awkward landing after a driving layup against the Bobcats on Feb. 26, 2007, that twisted his left knee into a gruesome, wincing sight not to be forgotten by anyone watching at Staples Center or on TV. The trauma was so severe that the Clippers' physician at the time, one of the most experienced sports doctors in the country, said he had never seen anything like it.
Livingston missed the rest of the season and all of the next. The Clips declined to give a qualifying offer for 2008-09 at $5.8 million, making him an unrestricted free agent. They still wanted him, still felt like he had potential, still felt like there was an investment and that if Livingston was going to make it anywhere it should be with the team that drafted him and waited through the recovery -- just not at that price.
When free agency started July 1, the Clippers still weren't sure he'd be able to play back-to-backs this season, or maybe even play at all. Not only did other teams call, though, other teams pursued to such an extent that the major medical risk coming back from turning the knee joint into sawdust had conversations with several clubs about a two-year deal.