The waiting was the hardest part for Shaun Livingston, who spent the first two weeks of the NBA season working out and sitting by the phone. Washington signed the 6-foot-7 point guard on Nov. 15 after an 0-7 start and released Jannero Pargo to open a roster spot.
Prior to Wednesday’s game against the Portland Trailblazers, Livingston appeared in four games, started in two, and was averaging 6.0 points, 2.2 assists and 2.0 rebounds.
Livingston was active for the Wizards’ 26-point loss to San Antonio on Monday, but he didn’t play because of a banged-up right shoulder. From his seat on the bench, the seven-year journeyman had a chance to sit back and watch the struggles of the team he joined for the second time in his career.
“You’d hope for better, of course,” Livingston said about the team’s dismal start. “This game’s about winning, trying to win games.”
Livingston is uncertain about his role on the team; he just knows he’d like to be part of set rotation, whether it’s as a starter or a bench player. But with coach Randy Wittman still searching for the right combination of players, Livingston, like his teammates, is a little bit in limbo.
“Any time you sit out, it could throw off your rhythm a little bit, and I’m kind of a rhythm player,” Livingston said. “That’s the only setback. It’s just not being able to get the game time, get into a rhythm and flow of the game.”
If the players find the mixing and matching of lineups a bit hard to adjust to, they had the chance to tell Wittman just that in a team meeting held before practice on Tuesday.
“It’s a good thing we’re doing that because it gets it off our chest,” said Bradley Beal, who’s been shuffling from starter to bench player, alternating with Jordan Crawford. Through the first 12 games, Wittman changed his starting lineup four times.
“We’re holding stuff in and sometimes you feel like, well, you can’t [challenge] the coach,” Beal said. “You don’t feel comfortable saying it to him. But we actually got the opportunity to tell him what we need to do and how we need to do it, basically, and I think we’re doing a great job of getting that out.”
Wittman says he appreciates the chance to have an open dialogue with his players. They may not be giving him the consistency he’s looking for on the court, but he’s trying to give that to them.
“I’ve got to be who I am,” Wittman said. “I can’t be different today being 0-12, as if we were 8-4. I’ve got to be the same. That’s my belief. I can’t be one guy one day, and another guy another [day].”
Asked if he thought his players needed that from him, Wittman paused and shrugged before answering.
“I don’t know. I think so. That’s my belief,” Wittman said. ” I can’t answer questions for them. Consistency from me is important, whether you’re winning or losing, you try to do that.”