NEW YORK — Like a pitcher on the verge of a no-hitter, Shaun Livingston doesn’t want to think about the streak he is on.
Still, there is no denying the Brooklyn Nets guard is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
On Monday night, he did a little bit of everything to help lead the Nets to a 108-102 win over the Philadelphia 76ers at the Barclays Center.
“I’m trying not to jinx it and think about,” Livingston said. “It’s a situation where I know where I’ve come from mentally as well. I just want to continue to play with the same confidence. I give credit to (coach) Jason (Kidd) as well because I talk to him every day, and just getting a chance to pick his brain gives me confidence.”
Livingston, who seven years ago suffered a debilitating knee injury, lit up the stat sheet Monday with 13 points, eight assists, a career-high seven steals and six rebounds in a shade less than 37 minutes.
“I was just trying to be active in the passing lanes,” Livingston said. “I’ve been on the wing, obviously guarding some of the better scores. I was just trying to be active, be disruptive, help my teammates and be in the right spots on defense.”
Livingston was the defensive catalyst for the Nets, who had 15 thefts, becoming the first team in the NBA this season to record 13 or more steals in three straight games. It is the fourth time in franchise history the Nets did so, and the first time since 1990.
Veteran forward Kevin Garnett had a season-high five blocks, becoming the 18th player in NBA history and second active player to record 2,000 career blocked shots. He added six points and seven rebounds.
“The guys are executing the game plan,” Kidd said. “It’s team defense, their hands are active.”
Guard Paul Pierce scored a game-high 25 points, guard Deron Williams had 21 points and six assists, and forward Mirza Teletovic added 20 off the bench for the Nets. Brooklyn (21-25) snapped a three-game losing streak despite being short-handed because of injuries.
“Today was especially tough because we didn’t have a lot of players,” Teletovic said. “The starting five got out, and on the bench there were like three people left. It’s very important we pulled together, everybody talked to each other and just helped out to get a win.”
Philadelphia rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams scored 21 points, guard Tony Wroten had 18 points and six rebounds, forward Thaddeus Young had 17 points, and swingman James Anderson added 12 for Philadelphia, which committed 26 turnovers en route to its third consecutive defeat and sixth in seven games.
“I can’t, I wish I could, you know,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said when asked to explain the 76ers’ 26 turnovers, which led to 32 points for the Nets. “It continues to haunt us. We have to get more responsible with the ball. I have to do a better job.”
The 76ers (15-34) trailed by as many as 19 in the second half, but they stormed back to pull within two points twice late in the fourth quarter.
“Anytime we start taking care of the ball and playing each and every position like it’s very valuable to the team, it’s easy for us to get back in games like this,” Young said. “They’re a very good team, very solid defensive team with KG anchoring their defense.”
The Nets responded each time — first with an 18-footer by Williams and a Teletovic layup as he was fouled. His three-point play gave Brooklyn a 102-95 lead with 2:59 remaining.
Anderson buried a 3-pointer to bring the 76ers within 104-102 with 22.7 seconds left, but Pierce and Livingston each knocked down two free throws in the final seconds to seal the win for Brooklyn.
NOTES: Brooklyn’s Jason Kidd was selected the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month. “It’s a very nice recognition, but it’s for those guys who are playing and those guys are playing very well right now,” he said. … G Joe Johnson (right knee tendinitis), F Andray Blatche (bruised left hip) and F Andrei Kirilenko (sore right calf) were out for the Nets. … After handling personal business in Boston, G Michael Carter-Williams returned to the 76ers’ lineup. … Philadelphia coach Brett Brown is targeting late February/early March for C Nerlens Noel’s NBA debut. The 6-foot-11 rookie, who is recovering from left knee surgery, is able to participate in limited on-court work. “I hope he never has this opportunity again, but we’ve taken advantage of it and I’m proud of his commitment to it, his buy in, and I think we’re starting to see results.”
Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine desires respect for new contract
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine wants the respect he deserves for his contract extension. On Monday morning before Team USA’s practice to prepare for Tuesday’s match against Spain, the 26-year-old guard said to reporters, “I just want my respect, that’s the main thing. I outplayed my contract. I’ve been very loyal to Chicago. I like Chicago. I just want my respect. If that’s now or later, it’s something we’ve got to work out internally.” In the 2020-21 season, in 58 games played, LaVine averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He also shot 50.7 percent from the field and was selected to his first NBA All-Star Game.
Regarding the “outplayed my contract” comment, his argument his fair. Last season, with 200 three-point field goals made, he ranked ninth overall in the league. Despite the Bulls finishing 31-41 (.431) last season, he led the team in points and assists. Per ESPN, they are also reporting that Chicago is trying to work out a four-year, $105 million contract extension for their star guard. Though, this deal is expected to fall below his market value. In terms of signing available free agents this offseason, some Bulls fans are speculating the organization will pursue either Knicks’ shooting guard/small forward Reggie Bullock, Lakers’ power forward/center Markieff Morris or Pelicans’ point guard Lonzo Ball.
Zach LaVine says he "wants his respect" in contract extension & will stay in touch with Bulls in coming days as they face challenging decisions with cap space: https://t.co/36T2RpAtZu
— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 2, 2021
On July 13, 2018, the 2014 13th pick of the draft signed a four-year, $78 million contract with the Bulls. LaVine earned $19,500,000 last season, and he is set to earn $19,500,000 in the upcoming season. It is not urgent for Chicago to extend LaVine’s contract this offseason. The organization will have the full rights to re-sign him to a new deal for next season in 2022.
However, the guard will also become an unrestricted free agent next year, so the Bulls should work towards fixing their salary cap issues right now. Referencing Spotrac, center Nikola Vucevic has a cap figure of $24 million. Of this amount, his future guaranteed cash is $22 million. One notable 2021-22 cap hold is Lauri Markkanen. His qualifying offer is $9,026,952, and his cap figure is $20,194,524. On March 2, 2020, Markkanen was recalled from the Windy City Bulls of the G League.
Furthermore, on March 25, 2021, center Nikola Vucevic and forward Al-Farouq Aminu were traded by the Orlando Magic to the Bulls in exchange for Otto Porter, Wendell Carter Jr., a 2021 first-round pick and a 2023 first-round pick. This is quite the gamble for the Bulls organization, considering they traded away two future first-round picks. Vucevic is set to earn $24 million for the 2021-22 season. Chicago has $56,679,846 available in cap space. Their current luxury tax space is $29,405746.
Rockets decline Avery Bradley’s $5.9 million team option
First reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Houston Rockets are declining Avery Bradley’s team option for the 2021-22 NBA season. On November 23, 2020, the 30-year-old guard signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat. He signed a two-year, $11.6 million deal. On March 25, 2021, the Heat traded Bradley, Kelly Olynyk and a 2022 first-round pick to the Houston Rockets for two-time NBA All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. The 2022 first-round pick is an option to trade for a potential Heat or Nets pick. Plus, Houston received a trade exception, too.
Moreover, Bradley earned $5,635,000 this previous season; the Rockets declined his 2021-22 team option of $5,916,750 for next season. In other words, both sides have mutually agreed to part ways, so the six-foot-three guard is now an unrestricted free agent. In early February, it was first reported that the Washington native would miss three to four weeks due to a calf strain. Before this injury, he averaged 8.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game for Miami. Furthermore, he also shot a career-high percentage of 42.1 percent from behind the arc last season.
The Rockets are not picking up guard Avery Bradley’s $5.9 million team option for next season, making him an unrestricted free agent, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. Sides mutually agreed to part ways.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 31, 2021
Though, Bradley disappointed both of his teams last season, leading to the Rockets finishing 17-55 (.236), ranking 15th overall in the Western Conference. Last season was the first time since the 1982-83 season that Houston failed to win at least 20 games. Since the 2011-12 season, it was the first time the Rockets had failed to qualify for the playoffs. In only 27 games played, the 11-year NBA veteran averaged 6.4 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 37.4 percent from the field as well.
Likewise, the Miami Heat finished 40-32 (.556) last season, regressing from the team’s 44-29 (.603) record and sixth NBA Finals appearance from the 2019-20 season. Fans across social media are already speculating that the 2010 19th overall pick will end up playing for the Los Angeles Lakers next season. If this happens, he would join the team’s newly established big three: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook.
After Bradley signed with the Lakers for the 2019-20 season, he joined the list of players in the league’s history who played for both the Celtics and Lakers. The list includes Brian Shaw, Clyde Lovellette, Mel Counts, Rick Fox, Don Nelson, Bob McAdoo, Isaiah Thomas, Charlie Scott, Gary Payton, Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo. According to Bleacher Report, the Lakers are also interested in signing Carmelo Anthony this offseason.
Mavericks will pick up Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option
Per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Dallas Mavericks are planning to pick up center Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million option for the 2021-22 NBA season. The deadline is tomorrow. Last season, in 53 games played, the seven-foot big man averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. The sixth-year player also shot 63.2 percent from the field last season.
On July 8, 2019, Cauley-Stein signed a two-year, $4.46 million contract with the Golden State Warriors. Then, on January 25, 2020, Cauley-Stein was traded to the Mavericks for a 2020 second-round pick. If everything goes smoothly, the 27-year-old center is set to earn $4.1 million next season. The 2015 sixth overall pick’s contract consumes less than three percent of the team’s total salary cap.
Source says Mavs are leaning toward picking up center Willie Cauley-Stein's $4.1 million option for next season. Deadline is Sunday and Mavs are waiting to see if situation unexpectedly materializes to make that cap space worth parting with a big man they like.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 31, 2021
This news comes right after Dallas received center Moses Brown from the Boston Celtics. Brown is a seven-foot-two, 2019 undrafted player out of UCLA. In 2021, Brown was named to the All-NBA G League First Team and All-Defensive Team. On March 28, 2021, the 21-year-old center signed a four-year, $6.8 million contract with the Thunder.
However, on June 18, 2021, the Oklahoma City Thunder traded Brown, Al Horford, and a 2023 second-round pick to the Celtics for Kemba Walker, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick. With Boston, Brown was set to earn $1,701,593 next season. Of course, the Mavs organization is finalizing a trade to send Josh Richardson to the Celtics as well. In other news, today is Mavs owner Mark Cuban’s 63rd birthday.
Referencing Spotrac’s 2021-22 luxury tax totals, the Mavs’ current luxury tax space is $52,326,531. The 2021 NBA salary cap maximum is $112,414,000. Their current cap space is $27,595,632. Cauley-Stein’s contract is recognized as a club option, not a player option or guaranteed money. Richardson’s deadline is also tomorrow, so because he is getting traded to Boston, the team will not collect his $11,615,328 player option.
Plus, Jalen Brunson’s deadline is also August 1st. His guaranteed value is $1,802,057. Leading into the 2021-22 season, Kristaps Porzingis has the highest cap figure on the team, which is an amount worth $31,650,600, consuming 22.73 percent of the team’s total salary cap. At the moment, Porzingis is a popular name in trade rumor articles. Bettors and NBA analysts are predicting a possible trade to the Brooklyn Nets, Sacramento Kings or Philadelphia 76ers.
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