Paul Pierce grabbed a rebound less than three minutes into the Nets’ preseason game Tuesday in Washington took a dribble and fired a pass up to Shaun Livingston at midcourt.

Livingston then took one dribble followed by two long graceful strides launched himself from a step inside the foul line and glided past two Wizards defenders to the rim where he slammed the ball through the hoop with one hand.

It was only a brief moment in the opening preseason game for the Nets one that was dwarfed by the debuts of Jason Kidd as coach and Kevin Garnett Paul Pierce and Andrei Kirilenko in Nets jerseys. But for Livingston the dunk was a flashback.

“Maybe a little bit” he said with a smile following Friday’s practice at the team’s facility ahead of Saturday’s preseason game in Brooklyn against the Pistons. “Back to when I had braids or a ’fro.”
For Livingston it was a reminder of the kind of athleticism his 6-foot-7 frame used to put on display before the terrible knee injury he suffered in 2007 while playing for the Clippers. Since then he has bounced around from one team to another — six in all — including spending portions of last season playing first for the Wizards and then the Cavaliers.

“Last year was a little up-and-down for me” said Livingston who averaged 6.3 points and 3.3 assists in 66 games between Washington and Cleveland. “Since the injury it’s been a roller coaster.”
But after spending the last several years going from team-to-team trying to rebuild his body and game Livingston enters this season with a fully guaranteed contract and what looks like a role perfectly suited to his selfless pass-first game: the backup point guard job with the Nets on a team filled with players more than capable of converting his well-placed passes into points.