August 19, 2005

Play It Again Sam...

It's quite fitting that Sam Cassell is now a Los Angeles Clipper. Remember last season when Sammy was upset that the Wolves weren't offering a contract extension? As a matter of fact, the Wolves said no talks until after the season. Sam didn't really like that and, in addition to his buddy Spree, helped disrupt team chemistry so much that a Western Conference Finals team of a year before missed the playoffs. Badly. Now, after being shipped out of Minnesota, he has nothing but bad things to say about his former team. Okay, whatever, he just got traded - rejected - by the Wolves, so I can understand he's a little upset, especially with the team he was sent to. Their last playoff appearance? 1997. The last time they won in the playoffs? 1994. Sam will make them better, and if he does he can tell ownership that he got them to the playoffs for the first time in 8 seasons. Great. Good for you Sam. What an accomplishment. I wonder if you even remember what it was like to damn near make the NBA Finals two years ago. Oh wait, you do. You took credit for it. You alone. Sure Sam, whatever.

So Sam's reason for being upset was clear - he wanted a contract extension and the Wolves said wait. Sam responded by not showing up ontime to training camp. Classy. Now, as the Clippers await Sams arrival and physical(we'll get back to this), once again we're talking about contracts.

"Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Cassell has no rights to force the Clippers to offer him an extension or demand another trade. He is scheduled to undergo a physical Tuesday in Los Angeles, and the Clippers have already made things clear to Cassell: No extension discussions now." - LA Times

That sounds an awful lot like what the Wolves told Sam too. The big difference between the Wolves and Clippers - management specifically - is that the Wolves are willing to spend a buck to win, whereas the Clippers are all about saving money. The Wolves may or may not have signed Sam after this season - or last season if he had behaved - but the Clippers most likely will not resign Sam. At all. They have Shaun Livingston waiting in the wings and had to move Marko Jaric because he was unhappy having to play second fiddle to thier point guard of the future. What makes Sam think he's more than just another salary off the books after the season? He's 34. His hip doesn't work right. He's historically a pouter and has been disruptive in the last two locker rooms he's spent time in (Minnesota and Milwaukee). Unless Sam is willing to take considerably less money and a backup role, the Clippers won't be interested. So we're back to square one, I wonder how Sam will react to it this time.

"Sam is a veteran and a professional who understands how this business works," General Manager Elgin Baylor said. "Both he and his representatives have been made aware of our position with regard to an extension." - LA Times

"We don't anticipate any issues, whatsoever, standing in the way of his performing at the highest level here, and being a big part of our reaching our goals this year." - LA Times

Veteran, yes, professional? Well, that's questionable. Baylor can only hope that Sam has his frustration and anger focused on the Wolves all season, because if he losses interest in them his next target will be Clipper brass and a new contract. Back when the Wolves traded Stephon Marbury away, they had considered trading for Cassell instead of Terrell Brandon, but Sam was in the middle of a contract dispute with the Nets. The Wolves saw this as a potential problem and wisely passed on him but the Clippers didn't seem to mind. It's their headache now. Thank God.

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