One of the few charismatic eras of the Clippers franchise came to an anticlimactic end Wednesday, with the team buying out the contract of veteran point guard Sam Cassell.
After ending a stalemate that had been lingering for days, Cassell can now join the Boston Celtics, his preferred destination, once he clears waivers after a 48-hour period.
The Clippers are expected to sign guard Ronald “Flip” Murray, recently waived by the Detroit Pistons. Murray, 28, has played with four teams, averaging 9.2 points and 2.3 assists in his seven-year career.
Cassell, 38, agreed to forfeit about half of the $1.7 million remaining on his $6.1 million contract, which amounts to about $850,000.
“I think it’s a situation where the team gives me an opportunity to chase another dream of mine,” Cassell said. “I appreciate it. There was frustration from both parties with our team being hurt and it was just an opportunity to move on.”
The negotiations had hit a snag in how much money Cassell should forfeit. Internally, there was concern about how much effort Cassell, who had missed four games because of a sprained right wrist, would offer if he had played out the rest of his contract. Also, a hard stance could have hurt negotiations with forward Elton Brand, who can opt out of his contract after this season and is also represented by Cassell’s agent, David Falk.
“After weighing all of the options and after conversations with Sam we believe this is the best solution for this team,” said Elgin Baylor, vice president of basketball operations. “We know and appreciate the many contributions Sam made during the last three years, and we wish him nothing but the best.”
Cassell joined the Clippers for the 2005-06 season and he helped lead them to within one game of the Western Conference finals, averaging 17.2 points and 6.3 assists. He was re-signed to a two-year, $13-million deal but was sidelined for 41 games the last two seasons for various ailments and injuries.
Cassell is in his 15th season in the NBA and has played for seven teams.
“It’s a relief, but I do feel like I’m leaving a lot of wonderful people in the city of Los Angeles,” he said. “The fans were great and treated me with respect.”
Brand performed light contact drills for the first time since rupturing his Achilles tendon last summer. He is on target to resume full practices in early March with an outside chance of playing during a five-game trip in mid-March.
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Records -- Clippers 19-36, Nuggets 34-23.
Record vs. Nuggets -- 1-1.
Update -- The Nuggets scored the most points of any NBA team this season in a 138-96 victory over Seattle on Wednesday.