OAKLAND -- On the heels of Andre Iguodala’s impressive late-season salary drive comes another Warriors veteran making a dash for cash as he approaches free agency and the team rolls toward the playoffs.
Highly proficient for the first four months of the season before falling into a slump that coincided with the Feb. 28 injury to Kevin Durant, Shaun Livingston is back to shooting with the automatic consistency of a fine timepiece.
Livingston scored a season-high 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting Sunday in a 139-115 victory over Washington, continuing a sizzling stretch of shooting that began seven games ago.
Livingston shot 80 percent Sunday and 78.9 percent over the previous six games. He’s at 79.3 percent during a stretch during which the Warriors have gone 7-0, winning by an average of 14.7 points.
“Shaun’s in a good groove,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We kind of changed his rotation a little bit a couple of weeks ago and he’s responded really well.”
Nearing the end of his third season with the Warriors, Livingston generally had served as Stephen Curry’s backup, entering games to start the second and fourth quarters and playing about six minutes in each stint. He occasionally found additional minutes, but those were not consistent.
Lately, though, Livingston has come off the bench midway through the first quarter, closing it out, and reentering midway through the second. Whom he replaces varies from game to game. He entered for guards Pat McCaw and Ian Clark on Sunday, for forwards Draymond Green and Matt Barnes in the previous game.
“He’s playing a little bit more small forward for us with KD out,” Kerr said. “Not just handling the ball, but playing off the ball some. He’s such a good player that he just recognizes things, sees the floor and guards multiple positions.”
Livingston, 32, is that rare point guard with superior length -- 6-foot-7, with a wingspan of nearly 7 feet -- and it plays into his versatility. He attributes his recent resurgence to body recovery and maintenance necessitated in the wake of a devastating knee injury in 2007 that nearly ended his career.
To be sure, no Warrior was more off his game than Livingston, who missed 19 of 22 shots during that stretch in early March when they lost four of six games, with five of the games coming on the road.
The turnaround is complete.
“I think it’s just my body feeling better,” Livingston said. “Coming off that road trip was rough, but I’m eyeing the playoffs now. Seeing the schedule, seeing this is kind of the last hurdle going into the postseason, you want to feel good about your body. The better I feel about my body, the better I feel about my game. Just staying with that confidence.”
Livingston’s three-year contract expires in July. He wants to return, and the Warriors realize he offers skills that would be exceedingly difficult to replace.
The Warriors don’t know if they can afford him and Livingston has played well enough during his time in Oakland, and surely during this sprint to the postseason, that his price is on the rise.