Who's Got Next? (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday January 22, 2008 11:09AM; Updated: Thursday January 24, 2008 5:13PM
Because of the Sonics' huge financial investment, Sene was -- by D-League terms, at least -- a man of wealth and privilege for whom doors were opened and opportunities created. Seattle director of pro player personnel Bill Branch attended Sene's practices in Boise, met with him after games and urged Idaho coach Bryan Gates to increase Sene's playing time in order to make the parent club happy. Sene's minutes went from 21 on Jan. 15 to 28 last Thursday to 32 in a post-Showcase game last Saturday in which he poured in a career-high 26 points.
The Stampede's other NBA assignee was 6' 10" rookie power forward Josh McRoberts, 20, who is earning a more reasonable $427,163 as a second-round pick, from Duke, of the Trail Blazers. In his first Showcase game -- he was sent down by Portland only four days earlier -- McRoberts missed all six of his shots, scowled at Gates while receiving extra instruction and committed five turnovers, including a reckless, one-handed jai alai heave while Idaho was squandering a 16-point lead. "Just make a good pass, boy!" scolded Petway as McRoberts took a seat during a timeout.
But when Stampede point guard Randy Livingston missed a runner in the final seconds of the game, guess who tipped the loose ball to himself for his 12th rebound, which helped clinch the 93-89 victory? As McRoberts sat down during another timeout, Livingston said just loud enough for everyone to hear, "Josh! Good rebound."
Two nights later, NBA TV strapped a microphone to Livingston's belly and aired his comments during Idaho's second game. He received a bit of media instruction before the tip-off from former Milwaukee Bucks coach Terry Stotts, the D-League's new coaches consultant. "You've got to come over and have a conversation with the coach, because you're the coach on the floor," Stotts said. "You've got to have a conversation with a young player, because then you're mentoring. You've got to talk to the officials. And you've got to swear some. Those are all the things you have to do."
Livingston is the best player in the D-League, its reigning MVP. At 32 he earns the maximum of $26,600, but he isn't fazed by the low pay. For one thing, he has spent parts of each of the previous 11 seasons in the NBA; though he had played in just 220 regular-season and playoff games, his various appearances had added up to a lucrative living. "If you get called up to the NBA for two 10-day contracts," points out an NBA scout, "that's $150,000 right there."
But Livingston has more than 10-day contracts on his mind. He has heard that the Boston Celtics are in need of a backup point guard, and he wants to receive consideration if the job were ever posted. "I know Gary Payton and Travis Best are a couple of veteran guys who have thrown their names in the mix," says the 6' 4" Livingston. "But I really believe that I could help that team. I have a great relationship with Danny Ainge -- I played for him in Phoenix. I'm big enough to guard Chauncey [Billups, the Detroit Pistons' All-Star point guard]. I'm playoff-tested: I've played in a conference finals, I've played in four playoff series. [Signing with the Celtics is] kind of my dream, but I haven't told a lot of people that."
Livingston has another reason for sticking around: to get his bachelor's degree. He left LSU after three seasons in 1996 without a diploma, and D-League players can take classes online free of charge through the University of Phoenix. He is majoring in mass communications with a minor in political science, and he hopes to coach college basketball, perhaps as early as next season.