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Livingston back where second act began


Livingston back where second act began

One look at 6-foot-7 Shaun Livingston and you see a size dimension not previously available in the Wizards backcourt. The pass-first point guard's ability to facilitate offense is another trait that's been lacking in Washington without John Wall running the attack. Randy Wittman hopes that won't be the case going forward now that the ex-Wizard is back.

"He gives us a guy that knows how to play, good basketball IQ," the Wizards coach said after Friday's practice and one day after the 27-year-old veteran rejoined the team. Wittman served as an assistant when Livingston played 26 games late in the 2009-10 season for the Wizards. "He’s got a good feel. We’re doing some of the same stuff when he was here before and we had him here. I’m familiar with him, so I thought he had a good practice for the first practice."

For his part Livingston, is simply happy being part of any practice. Traded from Milwaukee to Houston during the summer but released by the Rockets before the start of the regular season, Livingston has been working out in Florida. Now he's back in Washington and prepping for his first game. The Wizards (0-7) host Utah (4-6) Saturday night.

"Feels good. It's an opportunity to play," Livingston said. "Just being anxious. I haven't played yet this year. I'm just anxious to get out there, very anxious. Just gotta get my legs back, get my wind up and I'll be alright."

Playing for six teams over seven seasons, Livingston averaged 6.8 points and 3.5 assists. He credits his previous opportunity in Washington with resurrecting his career.

The fourth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers - where he played with current Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell - suffered a devastating left knee injury in 2007. Out for the entire 2007-08 season, the Illinois native's return included brief stints with Miami and Oklahoma City before landing with Washington in 2010.

"It was kind of at the turning point in my career with my knee. I was dealing with the struggles of trying to make the transition back on the court consistently and not a game here, then sit a game," said Livingston, who made 18 starts with the Wizards under former coach Flip Saunders, averaging 9.2 points and 4.4 assists.

"Flip really gave me the chance... the opportunity to play consistent minutes. My knee kind of responded well thank God, and I got a chance to get some confidence in me. Kind of reform my game."

Now he's back, replacing reserve point guard Jannero Pargo.

"I thought we needed to get another playmaker," said Wittman of the roster decision. "Never an easy decision, but one when he became available, I had some familiarity with [him] and I think he can help us."

While Pargo offered more help as a perimeter shooter, Livingston's pure point guard skills and size creates other options for the coach.

"Obviously, you can post him some," Wittman said. "He just knows how to run a team. He knows which guys are hot, how to get them the ball, that type of thing. And the size. I think he gives us good size at that position we haven’t had."

Wittman said Livingston, who joins a position currently manned by starter A.J. Price, was in "fair shape" considering he's missed game action. The pair will direct traffic while also vying for what ultimately figures to be the primary backup role when Wall returns possibly by the end of November.

"I’ve been playing against him for a while now," said Price, a high school contemporary of Livingston. "He’s very good. He’s only going to help the team in my opinion. He’ll give us what we need. I’m not sure how we’ll use him minutes-wise, but a little competition brings out the best in everybody."

After previously wearing number two in Washington, a number now worn by Wall, Livingston will don 14 which at the time was occupied by Al Thornton. Other teams inquired about his availability following his release, but Livingston said, "I think this really gave me the opportunity to be back in a familiar system and get good playing time and get a chance for me to show what I can do out there."

Which is to help a team ranked 27th in scoring generate points.

"Just I think to maximize guy's potential, just the scoring on the wing, low post with Kevin [Seraphin], just trying to get easy buckets as well," Livingston said of his role. I think everything's been kind of hard from what I've watched, been kind if bogged down and hopefully I can help get guys easy buckets. You get a couple easy buckets you get some confidence, get some momentum you'll play a little bit looser."

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

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Elena Delle Donne the favorite to win WNBA MVP, according to league GMs

Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne is one of the best players in the WNBA, and thus is always in the discussion for MVP honors. 

And heading into the 2019 season, league GMs give her the best chance of anyone to actually hoist the trophy when it's all said and done. 

In a WNBA.com survey of general managers, 42 percent picked Delle Donne to win MVP in 2019. Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury had the second-most votes at 25 percent, followed by A’ja Wilson of Las Vegas Aces at 17 percent then Las Vegas' Liz Cambage and Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun at eight percent. 

Delle Donne won her first and only WNBA MVP award in 2015 as a member of the Chicago Sky when she averaged a career-high 23.4 points per game. And with the Mystics set to make another run at the WNBA title (58 percent of GMs predicted Washington to have the most regular season wins in the Eastern Conference), she has a great opportunity to get her second this season. 


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Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

Explained: What is an NBA supermax contract and how does it work?

As All-NBA teams are announced and franchises have to make decisions about contract extensions, fans will see the term "supermax contract" thrown around a lot. 

Here's a quick primer with everything you need to know about the NBA's most lucrative player deals. 

What is a supermax contract?

Officially known as the "Designated Veteran Player Extension," this rule allows teams to re-sign qualified players to maximum five-year contracts worth up to 35 percent of the salary cap with eight percent escalation in each subsequent year.

The length of the supermax deal depends on the player's years of NBA experience and years remaining on his current contract. 

  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has two years left on his contract is eligible for a four-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified player who has completed seven or eight years of service and has one year left on his contract is eligible for a five-year supermax (keeping the player with the same team for a total of six seasons)
  • A qualified free agent who has completed eight or nine years of service is eligible for a five-year supermax 

Furthermore, teams cannot trade a supermax player for the first year after he signs the contract.  

How much is a supermax contract worth?

Valued up to 35 percent of the salary cap in the initial year and subject to eight percent escalation in each subsequent year, these deals are mammoth money.

For example, the Wizards signed John Wall to a four-year supermax in the summer of 2017 when he had two years left on his contract. The supermax money begins in 2019-20 and pays Wall $38.15 million that year. With annual escalations, his supermax is worth $170.912 million over the four-year lifetime of the deal. 

According to a report by Yahoo's Chris Haynes, Damian Lillard—who has two years remaining on his current deal with the Trail Blazers and is expected to be named to an All-NBA team—will be offered a four-year supermax extension worth roughly $191 million this summer. 

Who is eligible to sign a supermax contract?

Very few players qualify for a supermax contract. First, only a player that has (or will have) completed eight years of NBA service by the end of his current contract is eligible to sign a supermax deal, which can only be offered by the team that drafted him or traded for his rookie contract. 

Then, a player must meet one of the following three criteria.

  • Be named to an All-NBA team in the most recent season or both seasons before it
  • OR, be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the most recent season or both seasons before it
  • OR, be named NBA MVP in any of the three previous seasons

Which players have received supermax contracts?

  • Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors
  • James Harden - Houston Rockets
  • Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
  • John Wall - Washington Wizards

Who could receive a supermax contract this summer?

Anthony Davis is already eligible for a supermax offer from the Pelicans. And depending on the All-NBA, DPOY and MVP selections, the following players also could receive supermax offers:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - Milwaukee Bucks
  • Damian Lillard - Portland Trail Blazers
  • Klay Thompson - Golden State Warriors
  • Kemba Walker - Charlotte Hornets
  • Andre Drummond - Detroit Pistons
  • Bradley Beal - Washington Wizards 

What are the drawbacks to supermax deals?

The supermax contract was designed to help teams retain their players by allowing them to offer significantly more money than the competition; however, teams that offer such contracts are squeezing themselves in terms of salary cap room to fill out their rosters. 

No franchise can carry more than two supermax players at 35 percent of the cap each. Functionally, though, it's difficult for a team to have more than one.

Two supermax players would account for 70 percent of a team's salary in any given year, leaving the club virtually unable to sign a competitive supporting cast.