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Deal or no deal? Cassell is discussed

Times Staff Writer

Sam Cassell to the Boston Celtics. Cassell to the Dallas Mavericks. Or maybe to the Phoenix Suns.

The trade scenarios involving the Clippers point guard are abundant and the rumors have swarmed faster in recent weeks with playoff-caliber teams possibly looking for a final piece to put them over the top.

While the Clippers have fielded calls on Cassell’s availability and talks could increase leading up to the Feb. 21 trade deadline, the chances of Cassell being dealt, as of now, are small.

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“Right now, I’m a member of the Clippers and that’s all I can go by,” Cassell said. “I’ve been traded before. If it happens, it happens.

“It’s been a struggle this year, but I enjoy playing here. I wish we had our full capacity of players, but that’s not going to happen this year. I don’t have four more years of basketball left to play in this league. I won’t. I have this year and next year.”

Cassell, 38, is in the final year of his contract, making $6.1 million. The Clippers are hesitant to take on any contracts beyond this season. Also, it is simply not a matter of the Clippers accepting draft picks for Cassell, because the salaries would have to be in the range of another player.

And, most of all, the Clippers believe a healthy Cassell can improve their team just as well as anyone else’s, as evidenced by his 32-point outburst against the Suns on Tuesday.

“It’s not something I’m pursuing,” Cassell said of the rumors. “Saying the politically correct thing is one thing, but if you want to be somewhere, you would be somewhere.”

Coach Mike Dunleavy declined to discuss Cassell’s status specifically, but did address trade talks heading into the deadline.

“You have conversations with all kinds of guys and there are interests in players and you can figure out which guys teams have interest in,” he said. “Where there is smoke there is usually a fire. People floating different things out there usually have an interest. That’s the way a lot of deals happen. People start throwing things against the wall and hoping it sticks.”

Even though a few years have passed, Dunleavy is still surprised that Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer slipped into the second round of the 2002 draft.

Dunleavy, out of the league then, watched nearly every Duke game that year, when Boozer played alongside his son, Mike Jr.

“There were a couple guys I told, ‘Don’t miss on this guy,’ ” Dunleavy said.

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TONIGHT

at Utah, 6 PST, Prime Ticket

Site -- Energy Solutions Arena.

Radio -- 710.

Records -- Clippers 11-23, Jazz 22-18.

Record vs. Jazz (2006-07) -- 1-3.

Update -- The Jazz is a tale of two teams, streaking to a 16-3 record at home, but a 6-15 mark on the road. The Clippers will soon have a run at both venues. The Clippers play host to the Jazz in a Monday matinee.

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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