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Cassell willing to pay price to join Celtics

Email|Print| Text size + By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / February 6, 2008

Clippers point guard Sam Cassell is literally willing to pay the price to become a member of the Celtics.

Cassell told The Boston Globe this morning that his agent, David Falk, has had conversations with the Clippers about a potential buyout and he is interested in joining the Celtics if such happens. The 38-year-old is making $6.15 million this season in the final year of his contract with the Clippers. Celtics general manager Danny Ainge has said he is interested in finding “the right veteran point guard” and is rumored to have interest in Cassell.

“I’ve earned enough,” said Cassell, on his willingness to accept a buyout. “I’ve saved a little money. I put money away. I just want to win. Winning is the most important thing to me.”

Falk is out of the country and wasn’t available for comment. Cassell said he personally hasn’t had conversations with the Clippers about a buyout and has left that up to his agent. The Celtics do not have the right pieces to make a trade for the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder and would need a buyout to acquire the 15-year-old veteran via free agency.

Cassell said a buyout is “the only way I can get (to Boston).” An NBA source said the Clippers do not have any trades or buyout on the table for Cassell. Ainge does not comment on other team’s players.

When asked if the Clippers would buy out a player, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy, Sr., said: “That’s not our stance.”

Cassell was averaging 13.2 points, 4.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and a .255 3-point percentage in 26.2 minutes per game while starting 28 of 33 games for Los Angeles entering tonight. The 2004 NBA All-Star also entered tonight averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 971 regular-season games. The Baltimore native has played in 115 playoff games and won two NBA championships with the Rockets.

“I think I’d be a nice addition (to Boston),” Cassell said. “It would be fun, but I don’t even know if I’m wanted that far yet. I’m playing for the Clippers now.”

Cassell played with Celtics injured forward Kevin Garnett in Minnesota and guard Ray Allen in Milwaukee. He also has worked out in the off-season with Boston forward Paul Pierce in Los Angeles and center Kendrick Perkins in Houston.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Cassell said. “But it is a good situation, the Boston situation, with the pieces and (Garnett) gets healthy. I’ve played with him before. I’ve played with Ray Allen before. I don’t think the adjustment would be tough for me. I get with Paul during the summer (in Los Angeles). I get with Perk during the summer. There are a lot of guys on that team that I am familiar with…

“I think it’s realistic. It’s matter of just time. I don’t want to say too much. I’m optimistic about the whole situation. That’s why I got David Falk. That’s what he loves to do.”

Cassell and Garnett still have a close relationship. When asked if he has talked to Garnett about playing in Boston, Cassell said: “Garnett is a superstitious kind of guy. He doesn’t say too much. He wouldn’t mind it. I know that for a fact.”

Celtics second-year point guard Rajon Rondo has been playing well and would still start if a veteran point guard is acquired. The likes of ex-Celtics point guard Gary Payton and ex-NBA point guards Travis Best and Randy Livingston have said they would like to join the Celtics, too. When asked about backing up Rondo, Cassell said: “Whatever. I’ve been told it’s not who starts the game it’s who finishes.”

At the end of the Clippers shoot around, Cassell looked in the rafters at TD Banknorth Garden at all the retired Celtics jerseys and pondered what it would be like playing for the storied franchise.

“You got to wonder,” Cassell said. “All the tradition is in the rafters. Maybe not in this building, but in the rafters. It’s crazy. You see these guys DJ (Dennis Johnson)… (Cedric) Maxwell, ‘Chief’ (Robert Parish). You got so many numbers (retired) you don’t even have numbers you can wear.”

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