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Cassell gets buyout; next stop Boston?

Posted by Marc J. Spears, Globe Staff  February 28, 2008 08:34 PM

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The first step toward veteran point guard Sam Cassell becoming a Celtic took place Thursday.

Cassell signed buyout papers with the Clippers and won’t clear waivers until Monday at 6 p.m., assuming he clears. The 38-year-old is expected to sign with the Celtics over the Nuggets and Mavericks.

Since the two-time NBA champion will be waived prior to Saturday’s deadline, he will be eligible to play in the postseason.

‘‘I think it’s a situation where the team [Clippers] gives me an opportunity to chase another dream of mine,’’ Cassell told to the Los Angeles Times. ‘‘I appreciate it. There was frustration from both parties with our team being hurt and it was just an opportunity to move on.’’

Cassell spoke as if he will be wearing the green and white once he clears waivers. He said he would wear either No. 91 or No. 28. ‘‘I talked to [the Celtics] [Thursday] and they said they want me,’’ Cassell said.

Cassell will receive about half of the $1.7 million remaining on his $6.1 million contract, according to the Los Angeles Times. Despite signing P.J. Brown Wednesday, the Celtics still have one roster spot remaining. Boston can offer a prorated $1.2 million veteran’s minimum to Cassell. The Clippers are expected to sign free agent guard Ronald ‘‘Flip’’ Murray to replace Cassell.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and coach Doc Rivers cannot comment on Cassell until he clears waivers.

‘‘We do have one spot available, but I am very happy with our team,’’ Ainge said Thursday night.

Cassell averaged 12.8 points, 4.7 assists, a .259 3-point shooting percentage, and 25.7 minutes in 38 games for the Clippers. Although he has been hampered by a hand injury, it’s not a major concern.

Experience is another factor in Cassell’s favor; he has played in 115 postseason games and starting guard Rajon Rondo has not played in the postseason.

Cassell has said he has no problems backing up Rondo.

Cassell, who played with Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, has plans on what he could do for the Celtics.

‘‘Leadership and another weapon,’’ Cassell said. ‘‘Just direction. Those guys are already playing well. I just want to fit in and make it easier for KG, Ray, Paul and for the other guys.’’

Although the odds are in Boston’s favor, nothing can be finalized until Monday night. The Nuggets might try to woo Cassell, who played with coach George Karl and is close to fellow Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony.

Dallas, also a title contender, can offer Cassell an opportunity to play behind Jason Kidd.

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