Could It Be?
CELTICS CLOSER TO LANDING ANOTHER PIECE TO THE PUZZLE
Don't be surprised if Carmelo Anthony tries to call his fellow Baltimore native, Sam Cassell, about coming to the Nuggets. Or if Steve Nash gets in touch with ex-teammate Cassell about coming to the Suns. Or if Jason Kidd tries to persuade ex-Maverick Cassell to join him in Dallas.
But even though Cassell is fair game until he clears waivers, as expected, Monday at 6 p.m., his agent expects his client to end up in a Celtics uniform.
David Falk said yesterday Cassell will sign with the Celtics if he clears waivers. The 6-foot-3-inch, 185-pounder will sign a contract for the remainder of the season paying a prorated amount of the veterans' minimum of $1.2 million. While Denver, Dallas, and Phoenix reportedly may pursue him, Cassell expressed interest in coming to Boston before and after accepting a buyout from the Clippers Thursday.
Kevin Garnett said yesterday he is definitely in favor of Cassell coming to Boston. Garnett and Cassell were teammates in Minnesota from 2003-05. Garnett said the two-time NBA champion and recently acquired forward-center P.J. Brown would add solid experience.
"I've been checking on Sam to see how he's doing," Garnett said. "Other than that, nothing real personal ... well, nothing as far as basketball or whatever. But he seems to be pretty good. I talked to him a couple days ago.
"He'd be good for us along with P.J.'s experience. I think it would be a plus. There are so many different situations when you go on waivers and stuff. So, who knows? Whenever I talk to my friends personally, I like to see how they're doing personally, mentally, and physically. And then we get into other things."
Ray Allen said he spoke to Cassell Thursday and also believes Cassell would be a great addition. Allen and Cassell were teammates in Milwaukee from 1999-2003, and Allen acknowledged that a sales pitch was not needed.
"The minute KG got traded here in the summer, Sam liked what we looked like," Allen said. "He thought we were doing big things. It's been a long time for him since he's been able to say he's playing on a team that's vying for a championship."
Said Garnett: "Everyone here would benefit from [Cassell], his experience and his talent. The same with P.J. You can't look at it as a guy coming in taking minutes or whatever. You've got to look at it like, 'I'm in a bar fight with some guys that really know how to fight."'
Rondo a fan
During the Celtics' recent five-game Western trip, point guard Rajon Rondo said he had a short conversation with general manager Danny Ainge about Cassell. Rondo was happy to hear in advance from Ainge that Cassell could be coming to Boston, and the second-year man is looking forward to playing with him. Rondo still would be expected to start.
"Coach [Doc] Rivers has helped me out a lot," Rondo said. "He played the game for 13 years. But having a guy alongside you that's out there during the same situations, playing against the same players, will help me a lot."
The Celtics guard who probably would be affected most by Cassell's arrival is reserve Eddie House. House, however, expressed good will toward the 38-year-old.
"It's a big picture here," House said. "We're trying to do something special. I welcome him with open arms."
When asked about the challenge of helping his players adjust to a new arrival, Rivers said: "We talk to them all the time. [The media] will make a much bigger deal about it than we will in our own locker room. Everybody handles it different. Whoever doesn't handle it well, we'll try to sit them down and explain every move we make is to try to improve the team."