Clippers and Cassell Continue to Dance


Clippers and Cassell Continue to Dance

LOS ANGELES - Sam Cassell has been in the NBA since 1993. He has two championship rings. He has played in 115 playoff games for five teams - and he knows he won't get to No. 116 with his current outfit, the Clippers.

That is why this week stands as one of the more memorable ones in Cassell's 15-year career. By midnight Friday, he will know whether he will be going to the postseason with any of three teams - the Celtics among them - or whether he will close down his third year in Los Angeles April 16.

NBA sources indicated yesterday that the Celtics, Mavericks, and Nuggets all are prepared to make Cassell an offer should the 38-year-old guard be bought out of his contract and waived by the Clippers. All three teams have their biannual exceptions available to give to Cassell (a maximum of $1.83 million) while the Mavs have their full mid-level available ($5.356 million) and Denver has $2.356 of its mid-level. The Celtics have spent all of their mid-level.

"It's weird. I've been playing 15 years and this is the first time anything like this has happened to me," Cassell said yesterday morning following the Clippers' shootaround in nearby Manhattan Beach.

"I've been dealing with this for a month and it's going to come to an end soon. Hopefully something positive will come of it. But I know if I keep talking about it, from my experience, if I talk about something happening, it never happens. Nothing will happen. So I'll let it rest and hopefully everything will work its way out.

"My agent has been talking to them about it, but until he calls me and tells me to pack my bag, I'm still here."

The Clippers know they are not going to have Cassell back next season, as his $6.15 million deal ends this season. Thus, they could save some money by negotiating the buyout and do Cassell a favor in the process.

Coach Mike Dunleavy did not want to address the topic at yesterday's shootaround.

If a buyout is arranged, and there is some sentiment in the Clippers camp to do it for Cassell, he would need 48 hours to clear waivers.

"It's still in the air right now," Cassell said. "But as of now, I'm still a member of the Clippers."

Cassell was expected to be available to play last night against the Celtics after sitting out Saturday night's game against the Lakers with a sore right wrist.

While Cassell remains a possibility for the Celtics, it appears Brent Barry is going to stay in the Western Conference. Barry, who was traded by San Antonio to Seattle last week and subsequently released, clears waivers today, and it is believed he has decided on going to the Phoenix Suns. Other possibilities include the surging Houston Rockets and his old team, the Spurs. If he returns to the Spurs, he cannot play for another three weeks under league rules. Other potential high-value targets Flip Murray and Jamaal Magliore are expected to clear waivers tonight ... Kevin Garnett's brother-in-law, the famed R&B producer/songwriter Jimmy Jam, was planning on attending last night's game. The two are related by marriage; Garnett's wife and Jimmy Jam's wife are sisters. According to Jimmy Jam, Garnett first laid eyes on his wife, Brandi, when she was attending a Timberwolves game with her sister. "He was so distracted by what he saw that he threw a ball into the stands," Jimmy Jam recalled. "Then, after the game, he asked me, 'Who was that girl sitting next to your wife?' I told him who it was and he said, 'Cool. Can I come over to the house?' And the rest is history."'

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