Cassell is struggling to remain optimistic

Times Staff Writer

It takes a lot to wipe the smile off Sam Cassell’s face.

Right now, the veteran point guard is at that point, admitting Sunday that he is not having fun during the Clippers’ latest run of losses.

“We are 10-21,” Cassell said. “That doesn’t make it fun to enjoy. I’m still optimistic about how we can turn things around and see what we can do.”

Cassell started and played 23 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs, going one of four from the field. Since returning from a strained calf that sidelined him for 12 games, he has averaged 8.3 points in six games.


“I think I’m cool,” he said of where he is at physically.

“I just need to get my little rhythm back. That’s all. You play the game of basketball and you have to enjoy it. Right now, I’m just not enjoying it. Before anything else, you have to enjoy it, if you want to have success in this game.”

Cassell was the straw that helped stir the Clippers to their playoff run in 2005-06. But he hobbled through injuries much of last season and, so far this season, has not fared much better.

He is 38 and in the final season of a two-year contract. He has stated he would like to play one more season and then become an assistant coach.

Asked whether he would like to play for a team with championship aspirations to finish this season and his career, Cassell said he wasn’t at the point of requesting a trade.

“We’ll see,” he said. “It ain’t to that point right now, but we’ll see. I started this thing and we’ll see how it pans out.

“Everyone on this team is searching, from the coaching staff to the players. Everybody is trying to do what they can do to turn this thing around for the better of the team.


“I just got to get back to enjoying it and having fun with it. Me personally, I can’t play basketball with a frown on my face. I’ve got to be jittery and chattery. That makes me play better.”

Forward Tim Thomas scored seven points in 15 minutes, including a three-point basket that gave the Clippers their final lead, 74-73, in his first game played since sitting out four because of a sore knee.

“The second half, it got a little stiff,” Thomas said. “But for the most part, it felt pretty good.”

Shaun Livingston is scheduled to fly to Birmingham, Ala., today to have his surgically repaired left knee examined by Dr. James Andrews. If progress has been made, Livingston said he would begin to work on regaining his leaping ability.