As you no doubt know, Sam Cassell has not yet been bought out. According to Jonathan Abrams in the LA Times, Agent David Falk and club President Andy Roeser are working toward a number but haven't gotten there. But the story on the Boston Globe has a source that says that Donald Sterling is not interested in a buyout.
There was a nice piece on ESPN.com by former Times columnist JA Adande yesterday. Obviously, Adande covered Cassell for a couple years here, and he's convinced that Sam can help the Celtics.
Henry Abbott's observation on TrueHoop that a couple of teams have an inside track on Cassell, should he hit the waiver wire, is the kind of internecine plotting that I love. In today's NBA, waivers have become a formality - little more than a mandatory waiting period. But in fact, any team can claim a player on waivers, provided they have the room under the salary cap to pay the player's current salary. But waived players are either being waived because they're not helpful to a team, or because they make way too much money. In either case, other teams aren't going to jump at the chance to grab that guy at full price. Cassell is unique. He has value, and his salary is not ridiculous. Phoenix and Golden State are two playoff teams with big trade exceptions who could actually use those exceptions to grab Cassell before he has a chance to go to Boston. For Phoenix, since they're over the luxury tax, it would cost them a fortune... $2M this year and an additional $6M in taxes. So they won't do it. But for Golden State, it would be relatively cheap. It won't happen, but it's fun to speculate.
There was a story in Denver today about the Nuggets' ongoing interest in Cassell. Which just makes me crazy, since they had Najera's expiring contract to make a deal. Maybe they felt they couldn't part with Najera with Nene out - but couldn't they pick up someone from the D-League to take those minutes? It's Eduardo Najera! But it's OK, I'm over it. I'm fine. Really.
Al Thornton has risen into the Top 5 of David Thorpe's Rookie Watch (it's a free preview, but you'll need Insider if you wait too long). About time, right? But here's the thing - two of the players ranked ahead of him are (Scola and Moon) weren't in this draft. So Thorpe currently has Thornton ranked as the third best rookie from this draft - behind Durant and Horford, picked 2 and 3. That's impressive. Obviously there's the knock that Al is an older rookie, and I'll agree that it gives him an advantage over some of the 19 and 20 year olds in this draft. Oden and Conley (drafted 1 and 4) will surely be better pros in the long run. I'm less sure that's true of the guys picked 5 through 13 - but some of them will no doubt be terrific in the future. Still, drafting 14, the Clippers seem to have gotten a steal in Thornton. The Clippers drafting well? What are the odds of that?
Meanwhile, as long as we're on the World Wide Leader, Clippers mugs are all over the place over there right now. In addition to Cassell and Thornton, Elton Brand is a poster boy for 2008 free agency. Never mind that Chad Ford admits that it's highly unlikely he'll opt out, or that he would have to take a pay cut to play elsewhere next year, even for a team that figures to be far worse than the Clippers. EB's not going anywhere. Not next year.
Finally, it looks like the Clippers are going to sign Nick Fazekas to a 10 day contract. Look for him to be in uniform tonight (especially since Kaman is unlikely to play). Signing Fazekas would be a coup, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm certain he will remain with the club through the end of the season. He was drafted by Dallas early in the second round last June, 34th overall. He's a big man who can shoot, and I would like one of those, please. He didn't get any burn in Big D (9 minutes this season) and then they waived him last week. Obviously, it's a concern that Dallas gave up on him, but I'm sure money had a lot to do with it. When they took on Kidd, they went DEEP into luxury tax land. Fazekas' deal was small potatoes, but he was deemed expendable, and potatoes are potatoes. I like this signing.