This time last year, I was completely convinced that the Clippers were going to trade Corey Maggette. This season, it seemed a foregone conclusion that they would parlay Sam Cassell into some future considerations at least. In both cases - nothing happened.
In Maggette's case, it seemed inevitable because of the apparent impasse between the player and the coach. So if that wasn't an impasse after all, then it's understandable and preferable that he was not dealt.
In Cassell's case this year, I am at something of a loss. He's 38 and in the final year of his contract. The Clippers are 15 games below .500 and long since out of playoff contention. He could help almost any team that is going to the playoffs this season. And he only played 14 minutes in the final Clipper game before the Trade Deadline. Obviously I have no idea what offers they may have received for him. And owner Donald Sterling's recent rant certainly made it awkward to trade him to a contender for minor spare parts. But the only thing that really matters now is next season. And given that it is highly doubtful that Cassell will not be back next season, it means the Clippers just got nothing for him. And last time I checked, something (a second round pick, for instance) is still better than nothing.
Here are some of the deals that didn't happen this year. (Note that deals sometimes are in the pipeline and end up getting announced after the deadline has passed. If that happens here, then never mind.)
- Cassell and Aaron Williams and a pick to Memphis for Mike Miller. This one is interesting. In listening to the latest out of Memphis, the Grizzlies were only going to trade Miller if it made basketball sense, and were somewhat insulted by some of the offers they were getting for him. Gee, I wonder what could possibly have given teams the impression that a fire sale was going on in Memphis? How can they make the trade they made for Gasol, and then turn around a get all uppity when it comes to Miller? If, as was reported, they asked the Clippers for this season's lottery pick, that is in a way MORE than they got from the Lakers for Gasol (obviously not more bodies, but it's a likely top 10 pick, while they got exactly zero of those for Pau). Did they talk about a package that included Brain Cardinal? Would the Clippers have taken on Cardinal's deal to get Miller? I simply don't know. But the trade didn't happen.
- Cassell to Denver for Eduardo Najera and a pick. Other than the ties to George Karl, there was very little talk of sending Cassell to Denver. I fail to see how this trade doesn't make sense (although it would cost Stan Kroenke double the difference in their salaries since they are over the luxury tax). The Clippers would ask for a first round pick - the Nuggets would offer a future second rounder. Eventually you get the deal done somewhere between (maybe a future first rounder.) But Sam Cassell does a lot more good in Denver than he does in LA.
- Cassell to Cleveland for Ira Newble, Dwayne Jones, someone named Brown and a pick. Again, I never saw this discussed. But with Cleveland losing out on Mike Bibby and Jason Kidd and absolutely DESPERATE for a competent point guard, I can't imagine that they wouldn't have done this deal. Again, the specifics of the pick would be a negotiation.
- Quinton Ross to Phoenix for a second round pick. This rumor surfaced today. After the Shaq trade, Phoenix has to add a a player by tomorrow to get up to the minimum 13 player roster. They would love a minimum salary wing defender. Q fits the bill. I like Q - but he's going to be a free agent anyway. I would have been tempted to do this deal, if only because I know Phoenix is NOT going to re-sign him in the summer (not with their penny-pinching ways). So trade him, and then use the bi-annual exception or part of the mid-level exception to get him back.
- Corey Maggette to any team for anybody. There were basically no rumors involving Maggette, which is surprising. He's pretty much been a constant in trade talks for 2 years, he's likely to opt out of his contract this summer, and he's having the season of his life for a non-playoff team. That sure sounds like a guy that should at least be generating interest. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Maggette this summer. This is another player in addition to Cassell that the Clippers could lose for nothing in return.
We'll probably never know the real story behind the deals that didn't happen. I love Sam Cassell, but I'm disappointed that he didn't get traded. For the future of the team (as minor as some of those considerations might have been) as well as for Sam. He deserves to be in the playoffs - he was built for the playoffs. In fact, this is the first time in his 15 year career that he will miss the playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Unless he gets bought out. And the only thing that would baffle me more than not trading him would be buying him out after not trading him.