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Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Surprising Livingston will be tough to keep

By Mike Mazzeo

Livingston
Shaun Livingston has risen above expectations this season.
Keeping Shaun Livingston around next season is going to be tough.

Livingston, who has emerged as a starter and valuable contributor for the Nets, signed a one-year contract worth the veteran’s minimum to play in Brooklyn during the offseason.

But the Nets don’t have his Bird rights (which would enable them to exceed the salary cap to sign him), meaning they can only offer him all or part of the taxpayer mini midlevel exception, or the veteran’s minimum plus 20 percent.

Given how good Livingston has been for the Nets -- averaging 7.8 points and 3.0 assists per game on 46.9 percent shooting while also playing tenacious defense in just 24.7 minutes per contest -- he will likely have no shortage of suitors.

“It’s definitely a juggling act, understanding the situation I’m in. It’s a very positive situation playing for coach [Jason] Kidd,” Livingston told Ryan Ruocco and Stephen A. Smith on ESPN New York 98.7 on Tuesday. “The chemistry I’ve had with him and some of the other players -- Joe [Johnson], D-Will, [Kevin] Garnett -- all of them have had positive influences on my season so far. It’s been great for me to play here, but obviously this is definitely a business, and you just gotta weigh it out. But right now I’m focused on the season and definitely the playoffs.”

Livingston also discussed how he landed in Brooklyn.

“It started when Coach Kidd, he got the job, and probably a week later he reached out to me when I was back in my hometown [in Illinois],” he said. “I got a call; I didn’t know the number, but it was Jason. He just expressed interest in my game, my IQ, my abilities. He let me know that there were [other] guys on the horizon, but my IQ and my game fit the chemistry of his team. And I have a high respect for his game and his opinion of everything that he’s accomplished, so it meant a lot to me. I thought the opportunity was too great to pass up, regardless of money.”

The Nets will have to hope Livingston feels the same way this offseason.

• Looks like Andray Blatche playing for the Philippines will become a reality.

According to reports in the country, the Filipino House committee on justice approved a bill for the naturalization of Blatche on Wednesday.

There are still more steps, but this is certainly a good sign.

Blatche, for the record, is not Filipino but has expressed interest in representing the country at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain over the summer.