Livingston gets chance to come back from injury with Heat
MIAMI -- Shaun Livingston has never seen the gruesome video of himself grabbing a loose ball near midcourt, dribbling three times, going in for a layup attempt and having his left knee shred on the landing.
He doesn't intend to watch it anytime soon, either.
"I'm not focusing on the past. I'm just really looking forward," Livingston said. "No mental image in my mind should really derail me."
More than 19 months after that misstep nearly ended his career, Livingston has a second chance. The free agent point guard signed a two-year contract Friday with the Miami Heat, who believe Livingston -- the No. 4 overall pick in the 2004 draft by the Los Angeles Clippers -- could eventually be a steal.
"He has great size and feel for the game at his position," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I've followed him for a few years. It's unfortunate, really, what happened, but we'd normally never be able to get a player of his talent at this time. He's very committed to getting healthy and we have a great staff to help him get there."
The Heat had Livingston in for a workout about two weeks ago, and talks began intensifying Thursday night on a deal.
Heat president Pat Riley said last week the team only was $415,000 shy of reaching the luxury-tax threshold, so signing the 6-foot-7, 23-year-old Livingston would suggest another deal to free up some cap space could be forthcoming before the regular season opens at the end of the month.
"I think a lot of people will be surprised by how good he looks because of the injury he had," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "Of course we all know he still has a ways to go. But I think for the future I think it's going to be good. Give him time to get back in shape and time to get healthy and you've got a 6-7 point guard for the future at a very young age."
The Heat cut point guard Tre Kelley to make room on the 20-man training camp roster.
Livingston was at practice with the Heat Friday afternoon and will travel with the team to Europe for preseason games next week, although it isn't clear when he'll be ready for game action. The Heat already had three point guards vying for the starting spot, with Chris Quinn seeming to have the upper hand so far over rookie Mario Chalmers and Marcus Banks, who came to Miami last year from Phoenix in the Shaquille O'Neal trade.
"I'm excited to play, excited to be here in Miami and really show what I bring to the table when healthy," Livingston said.
Several other teams showed interest in Livingston this offseason, including Portland, Minnesota and the Clippers.
Livingston was cleared for basketball activity last spring, and has been playing 5-on-5 scrimmages for several months, including some stints this summer in Chicago with Wade.
"It came down to Miami and Minnesota," said Livingston's agent, Henry Thomas, who also represents Wade. "And he was more comfortable there."
Livingston averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 assists in parts of three seasons with the Clippers. He was injured on Feb. 26, 2007, tearing three knee ligaments and dislocating his kneecap in a gruesome scene that Wade said he saw once and couldn't bear to see again.
"Shaun is 23 years old so he's still very young," Wade said. "And a 6-7 point guard, you don't really see too many nowadays. I think for the future of Miami, that's a good start."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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