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Cassell confirms buyout talks

Times Staff Writer

Sam Cassell could soon be wearing the green and white of the Boston Celtics. Or the purple and orange of the Phoenix Suns. Even the yellow and blue of the Denver Nuggets.

With the time dwindling to arrange a buyout of his contract, the point guard finally confirmed Monday that a divorce between him and the team is being discussed.

“They’ve been discussing it, so what more can I say?” Cassell said.

“Both parties are getting to a number and saying, ‘OK, this is what we’ll do it for.’ I just want to be treated fairly.”

The Clippers attempted to deal Cassell, 38, before last Thursday’s trade deadline, believing they had a multi-player trade in place to land forward Mike Miller from the Memphis Grizzlies.

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When that fizzled late, there was not enough time to revisit other talks to deal Cassell, who sat a third straight game Monday because of a sprained right wrist.

Owner Donald T. Sterling has said he wants his team to remain competitive, making it hard to deal Cassell without landing a serviceable player, rather than a draft pick, in return.

Cassell is in the last of a two-year deal and would have to forfeit some of his remaining $6.1-million contract in order to be waived.

The Celtics, Suns and Nuggets have all shown interest in Cassell. But all three are also targeting free-agent guard Brent Barry, waived after being traded to the Seattle SuperSonics, as a first option.

A buyout would have to be arranged by Saturday, but Cassell would not have to sign with a new team by then.

Elgin Baylor, vice president of basketball operations, said Monday that the Clippers would do whatever helped their team, declining to elaborate, but also adding that Cassell has been a great leader on the team.

Cassell said he talked about the situation with Coach Mike Dunleavy.

“My level of respect for Mike has grown,” Cassell said. “He understands the situation and he’s been great about it. There’s no love lost, but it ain’t like I’ve got five more years of basketball. I’ve got two at the most, but one definitely.

“I can’t knock him at all. If it was his whole decision, it might have happened. But it ain’t his decision.”

Dunleavy declined to go into the specifics of Cassell’s status.

But it would be considered an act of good will by the Clippers to free Cassell.

He was a catalyst in helping the team come within one victory of the Western Conference finals two seasons ago, but little has gone right since.

“I thought I helped this team with respectability, but injuries are a part of professional sports,” Cassell said. “Injuries overcame our ballclub.”

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The Clippers are still looking to bring in players to fill their remaining roster spot. Guard Richie Frahm, signed earlier this season and waived before his contract became guaranteed, remains a viable candidate to return. . . . Center Chris Kaman sat out a second straight game because of a sore lower back. He had an MRI exam Monday and the results were negative.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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