Links: The Meaning of $2 Million

by February 28, 2008

by Lang Whitaker

There’s been a lot of talk all season about the Clippers buying out Sam Cassell and allowing him to go to the Celts or a Playoff team. Now, according to the LA Times, the Clippers are willing to buy Sam out and let him go to any team he’d like. The only catch is that they want to buy him out for $0. Sam still has $2.1 million owed to him, and the Clips say if he’s willing to forget that they owe him that money, they’re willing to forget he signed a contract with their franchise and pledged to play his hardest for them.

I don’t blame the Clips in this situation, at all. Remember how Cassell ended up playing under this current contract? When he was a free agent two summers back, the Atlanta Hawks made him a sizeable offer to come to the Dirty and run the Hawks for a few seasons. Cassell ended up using Atlanta’s offer to drive up what the Clips had on the table, and Sam even got them to throw in a promise that they’d allow him to segue to their coaching staff when his playing days were over (which, strangely, nobody is talking about anymore).

Now Sam has a big decision to make: How much are the next few months of basketball worth for him, not just financially but emotionally? Financially, Sam has two choices:
1) Play about 30 regular season games for the Clippers and bank about $2 million.
2) Play about 30 regular season games and maybe up to 20 Playoff games for a contender and bank his prorated portion of the veteran’s minimum, which I’m guessing would work out to something like $400,000.

Or I guess he could play out the string with the Clippers and then sign with another team next season, although I think it’s safe to assume that Kevin Garnett’s very good friend Tyronn Lue is going to be racing up to Boston when the season ends to try and fill their veteran back-up point guard slot. Besides, Cassell’s had so many injuries that this current healthy stretch may not extend through 2009.

Cassell points out that the only reason he signed with the Clippers was because he thought they were going to be competitive, and then injuries screwed all that up. And now that he finds himself in a hopeless situation, he’d like to go somewhere that he can have a chance to play for something more meaningful. Which is understandable and all, expect for the part about how HE SIGNED A CONTRACT to play for the Clippers. Now he wants to be free to go elsewhere and have the team pay him for allowing him that right?

I guess the real question Sam is facing is this: What’s more meaningful, $2 million or a shot at a title?

(I’ll take the $2 mil, thanks.)

• Had a visit this morning from a guy named Mason Gordon. If that name sounds vaguely familiar to you, that’s because Mason is the inventor of SlamBall. Remember SlamBall? It was basically NBA Jams come to life, and it used to air on SpikeTV a few years back. I used to tune in occasionally, but never really felt any sort of pull that made me watch on teh regular.

Well, they’re back, and now they’ve got the international marketing muscle of IMG behind them. And as they ramp up for a new season, Mason asked me to help get the word out about upcoming tryouts, including one in New York (all day on April 8 in Brooklyn at Aviator Athletics). If we get a Linkstigator into this league I expect daily email updates.

• Last night I was sitting at home when I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. I answered the phone…
ME: Hello?
GUY: Um, Lang?
(at least, that’s what it sounded like he said)
ME: Yes, this is Lang.
GUY: (pause) Lei Wong?
ME: Er, no. I think you have the wrong number.
GUY: Yeah, I think I do.

• I watched the Hawks/Kings game last night, and found myself continually impressed with Brad Miller. Yes, Brad Miller, who used to be an All-Star and a big-time player, before the Kings fell into disrepair and gave Mike Bibby to the Hawks out of the kindness of their hearts. Miller might not be as spry as he used to be, but he can still pass as good as any big man in the NBA, and he can still knock down jumpers. He’s also still got that dirty streak, making him like a cross between Arvydas Sabonis and Charles Oakley. I can’t believe a team, especially an Eastern Conference team like Washington or Atlanta or even Miami, didn’t make more of a run after Miller before the trade deadline, because he’d easily be an All-Star in the center-starved East. He’s still got two years and about $25 million left on his contract, but he seems well worth that price.

• On the video I posted from All-Star, there’s a fleeting glimpse of Georghe Muresan, who strides past my camera like a Sasquatch. In other gigantic person news, reader Jordan sent along this link to a recent interview with Manute Bol, who some guys stumbled across while in the Sudan.

(And in even more gigantic person news, Khalid swears that on Saturday night in New Orleans, he saw a “giant man” passed out on Bourbon Street.)

• Two readers, Josh and Mark, have started a weekly NBA comic strip they call Garbage Time All-Stars. Some funny stuff here.

• And reader Kyle sent along this link to what it would be like to have Isiah Thomas as your life coach.

• Remember last year when we talked about text messaging had become the new preferred form of communication for NBA players? It’s still true today — if I call an NBA player on his cell, there’s virtually no chance he’ll either pick up or check his messages. But if I text someone they almost always write back. (I don’t know if that says more about NBA players or about me.)

Anyway, it says today in the Arizona Republic that as the Suns have been waiting to get a call back from free agent Brent Barry to find out about signing him, they received a few text messages from him yesterday. TTYS, Brent.

• Check out what Mutombo calls his wife. He must be a Linkstigator.

• George Karl says he’s willing to do whatever he can to help keep the Sonics in Seattle. I’m guessing he’d be happiest if we organized some sort of eat-a-thon.

• Finally, Dwight Howard says he has a Finding Nemo bowling ball. No comment.