CLEVELAND — There was a time when Shaun Livingston was billed as the next Penny Hardaway.
The original comparison stemmed from the 6-foot-7, 175-pounder’s extremely thin frame and point guard skills, but he ended up having more in common with Hardaway from an injury standpoint.
Livingston, chosen by the Los Angeles Clippers with the No. 4 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft out of Peoria Central High in Illinois, suffered a gruesome knee injury that required total reconstructive surgery, missed all of the 2007-08 season and has struggled to get his career back on track.
When the Cavs claimed him off waivers on Christmas Day, the 27-year-old joined his seventh NBA team.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Livingston said Friday prior to a game against the Atlanta Hawks at Quicken Loans Arena. “I’m a true believer in that. There’s an opportunity here for me.”
Livingston played in 17 games this season for Washington, starting four. He averaged 3.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. He previously played for the Clippers, Miami and Oklahoma City before his first stint with the Wizards, then had stops in Charlotte and Milwaukee before going back to Washington.
“I tried to remain positive,” Livingston said of his road back from the injury. “I had a real good supporting cast. A lot of prayer brought me back.”
To make room for Livingston, the Cavs waived point guard Donald Sloan, who averaged 4.1 points in 20 games.
In and out
|Cavs center Anderson Varejao missed his fifth straight game with a bruised right knee — “Wild Thing” wigs were handed out to the fans Friday — and also won’t play tonight in Brooklyn, but he expects to be back in about a week.
“It’s getting better every day,” Varejao said. “It’s just not there yet. … Every day I can do more and more with my knee. I’m pretty confident to be back soon.”
The Cavs host Sacramento on Wednesday, play in Charlotte on Friday and are home vs. Houston a week from tonight.
“We want to get him as close to 100 percent as possible before he steps back out on the court,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said.
With Varejao out, second-year power forward Tristan Thompson entered Friday in the midst of the best stretch of his pro career. The 6-9 Thompson had posted four straight double-doubles and averaged 13.0 points on .500 shooting, 12.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 36.8 minutes. Thompson entered the Hawks game with nine double-doubles for the season.
|P.J. Carlesimo is serving as Brooklyn’s interim coach after Avery Johnson was fired Thursday, a move that “surprised” Scott but “didn’t surprise” him.
“I know Avery very well,” Scott said. “He’s a very good friend of mine. (I’m) disappointed, but also understand it’s a business and these things happen.”
|Scott entered Friday with 399 career coaching victories. Seven other active coaches have reached 400: George Karl, Rick Adelman, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Rick Carlisle, Scott Skiles and Doug Collins.|
|The Cavs sent big man Samardo Samuels, who averaged 3.2 points and 1.6 rebounds in 18 games, to Canton of the NBA Development League.
Canton also traded the rights to former Cavs forward Luke Harangody and a third-round pick in the 2013 D-League Draft to Fort Wayne for former Purdue center JaJuan Johnson and a first-round D-League pick in 2013.
The Cavs’ flight home from Washington, D.C. was grounded for about 6 hours due to mechanical difficulties and forced the team to cancel practice Thursday.
l Former Cavs general manager Danny Ferry now holds the same position with the Hawks. He did not attend the game Friday.
l Atlanta guard Devin Harris missed his fifth straight game with a sore left foot, while forward Ivan Johnson was out with a stomach illness.
l Point guard Deron Williams (bruised right wrist) missed Brooklyn’s game Wednesday against Milwaukee, but played Friday vs. Charlotte. Power forward Kris Humphries (sore abdominal muscle) has missed the Nets’ last three games.
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.