OAKLAND -- Anyone familiar with the long and sometimes tortured journey of Shaun Livingston understands why he doesn’t think too far ahead.
He won’t peek at next week, much less next season, because he knows better than most in the NBA that there are no assurances.
So pardon Livingston, 33, for not sweating the fact that with the Warriors facing the likelihood of another luxury-tax bill, this one exponentially higher than the last, he could be a roster casualty.
“Just staying in the moment, trying to enjoy this year, whether I have another year with the team and I come back, or whether this is the last year, I’m trying to enjoy it,” Livingston said on The Warriors Insider Podcast this week. “Enjoy the everyday process of it, knowing that the team’s job is to do what’s in their best interest.
“If it is the end, it’s been a hell of a run. I feel like they’ve done right by me.”
Livingston came to the Warriors in the summer of 2014. General manager Bob Myers and then-consultant Jerry West liked his uniqueness, a 6-foot-7 point guard with a solid mid-range scoring game and useful length on defense. They envisioned him as the ideal third guard behind youngsters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Four years later, the Warriors have made four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, winning three of them.
“Honestly, it couldn’t have worked out any better for me, in terms of my career and the trajectory of everything and how it came about,” Livingston said. “Being on seven or eight different teams in a matter of six to eight years, it was a lot. A lot of movement. A lot of travel. But it also was a growing experience.
“Catching on (with the Warriors) toward the tail-end of my career, it was a blessing.”
Livingston entered the NBA as an lottery pick (fourth overall), by the Los Angeles Clippers, straight out of Peoria Central High School. The top-five prep recruit was bound for Duke before opting for the pros.
Despite a spate of minor injuries, his career was coming along nicely until the night of Feb. 26, 2007, 56 games into his third season. He went in for a layup, missed and landed awkwardly, practically annihilating one of the longest, skinniest legs in the league. The diagnosis: Dislocated left kneecap, a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), torn posterior cruciate ligament (PCL), torn lateral meniscus, sprained medial collateral ligament (MCL) and fractured leg.
Livingston was out for the remaining seven weeks of the season and the entirely of the following season. He was occupied with trying to walk, which took the better part of the remaining calendar year.
Once he was ready to resume his basketball career, more than 16 months after his injury, the Clippers let him walk. Livingston returned for the 2008-09 season, signing with the Miami Heat and appearing in four games before he was shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies for a second-round draft pick the Grizzlies never received because it was top-55 protected.
From Miami to Memphis for nothing began a dizzying succession of moves, from the Grizzlies to the Thunder to the Wizards to the Bobcats to the Bucks, back to the Wizards, to the Cavaliers and the Nets before, finally, the Warriors.
“Guys like myself and Andre (Iguodala), we went through nine years, 10 years before we won a championship,” Livingston said. “And you realize through the experiences that we have something special here, a special group.”
Livingston’s $7.7 million contract for next season is only partially guaranteed. If the Warriors waive him before July 1, they’d owe him only $2 million, saving the team nearly $20 million in luxury tax payments.
If it happens, Livingston is OK with it. He might retire. He might continue.
“Just trying to enjoy it, man,” he said. “And understanding these last four years, this doesn’t happen. You don’t have teams that go to the NBA Finals four years in a row, or win three out of four years.”