Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Price for Cassell

Heisler wrote in the LA Times on Tuesday that Sam Cassell was "signaling he'd take $5 million a season." Then on Thursday, Jason Reid of the Times wrote that Cassell "would prefer a guaranteed two-year contract and a raise from his $6.1-million salary."

This stuff drives me crazy. How was Cassell signaling? And why in the world would he signal a number that was (a) a decrease in salary and (b) below the veteran's mid-level exception that he can get from any team in the league? I'm not sure I can survive in this blogging game without getting some actual access. I need a press pass. I need to ask Cassell some questions my own damn self!

As for the Reid article, it is interesting to note that there was never a direct Cassell quote saying he wanted the raise. Here's what he did say:

"If management wants to step up and make a statement with me, great, because I want to be here. I can't put a particular number on what it's going to take, but if it's a fair number that's reasonable for both parties, then let's do it. We've got something good started now. You can see it."

Everything in the Reid article rings true. Why wouldn't he want a raise? Did he not earn his $6.1M this year?

In fact, Sam Cassell is one of the most monumentally underpaid players in the NBA. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes players become free agents at the wrong time - after a down year, or in a depressed market. But somehow Cassell, who plays a position that is in short supply, has been a winner his entire career, has made two all-star teams and one 2nd Team All NBA, made $6.1M last year.

Not only does he make HALF the money of other veteran all-star points (Marbury, Francis, Bibby, Iverson, Nash, Kidd, Arenas, Baron), he also makes less than guys like Jason Terry, Andre Miller and Jason Williams, and only a little more than Jamal Tinsley, Derek Fisher, Marko Jaric and Eric Snow. C'mon!

I realize it is not the Clippers sole responsibility to right this injustice, but at the same time they paid Sam Cassell $6.1M this year to lead them to their best season EVER and remove the 'worst franchise in pro sports' addendum from their name, at least temporarily. Surely they can commit $12.5M over the next two years to the guy. Hell, they paid Kerry Kittles $10M last year to play in 11 games. There's really no reason to think Sam won't be able to play at 38. It's not like his game is predicated on speed and athleticism.