Cassell still quick to fill in the blanks after 13 seasons
Posted: Wednesday May 10, 2006 11:10AM; Updated: Wednesday May 10, 2006 3:11PM
Though never among the NBA's highest-paid, Sam Cassell and his 10 playoff trips has been one of its most successful players.
David E. Klutho/SI
Marty Burns will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
Here he comes, all herky-jerky and head faking, going 100 miles per hour. But Clippers guard Sam Cassell isn't on the basketball court. He's trying to break my ankles ... on a telephone call.
We're talking about his pending free agency, and Sam I Am is on a roll.
"Three years? Nawww. Two is enough. That would be 15 years in my career. That's enough. I want to play at a high level, man. I don't want to be on the bench just collecting a check. I want to be in the lineup. To sit on the bench and collect a check, that's not me.
"I feel better in my 30s than I ever did in my 20s, when I was living that hard lifestyle. Back then a lot of days I felt awful in practice. I'd still perform in the games, but I felt awful at practice. Now I feel better than I ever have because I take care of my body.
"I know I can do this for two more years at a high level. Put it this way: If a team says, 'We'll pay you the money but we will not start you; we want you to come off the bench,' ... I guarantee you there won't be more than two guys [coming off the bench] on other teams who end up averaging more points and assists.
"There might not be one!"
Whoa, doesn't this guy ever slow down? My ears are burning and my fingers are flying on the laptop keyboard.
Don't get Cassell wrong. His main priority right now is taking care of Steve Nash and the Suns. But he also knows his impending free agency has become something of a hot story in La La Land, and he wants to set the record straight on a few matters.
"If I could stay [with the Clippers], that would be my choice," he says. "But everything has to be right. They have to be fair with their offer."
By "fair," Cassell explains that he means "market value." (Right now it's too early to say what the market will bear, but educated guesses put the price tag at somewhere between $6 million and $8 million. Cassell is making $6.1 million this season.)
Cassell also says he's willing to sign a two-year deal. This is good news for the Clippers, who might be reluctant to go out much further for a 36-year-old, even one coming off a season in which he averaged 17.2 points and 6.3 assists in 34.0 minutes while playing in 78 games.