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I Do (Not) Like That Sam I Am

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The Raptors’ biggest need this off season is at the point guard position. Hoops Addict has two passionate Raptors fans, Ryan and Jeff, and they have differing views on whether Sam Cassell would be a good fit for the Raptors.

Ryan McNeill: With the Raptors looking for some help at the point guard position I’m wondering why no one’s mentioned Sam Cassell as a player we should look at. He’s a proven winner (he has won two Championships) and he’s always made his teammates better.

Jeff Wong: I think he would be a better fit style-wise than Mike James, but I also have my doubts.

RM: I think you could go either way on this one because his big ego and his age make it easy for you to argue against the Raps bringing him into town. Some fans cringe at James because he’s 31 so I think they’d flip at Sam I Am coming to the T Dot. Still, Sam’s a winner and would be a great mentor to Calderon and Roko Ukic the next two years. He only made 6.2 mil this season so we could grab him for 6 to 8 mil a season and it’s not a long term commitment. To get an All-Star caliber point guard for that cheap has to be seen as a steal. Look at the Suns and how they brought an older point guard into town in Steve Nash and how that paid off for them. Nash is locked up long term while Cassell would only be a one or two year investment.

JW: Yeah, agreed with the age thing. He’s 37 in November 2006. Yes, Sam’s got great credentials (100+ playoff games) and acts like a coach on the floor, and would be a great example for our young’uns to follow. But the Clippers will want to keep him for the same reason, to tutor Shaun Livingston. I’m assuming, of course, that Livingston won’t get another freak injury, like getting mauled by a killer chimp.

RM: I was reading this on Ben Maller Tuesday morning that Cassell’s tried to open up contract negotiations through his agent but the Clippers aren’t biting. Do you think the Clippers may let Livingston take over the show next year? If so, then it could easily pave the way to him playing for the Raptors.

JW: Like I was facetiously saying earlier, who knows how many games Livingston can play next year? Plus, he’s practically a rookie, having played only 91 regular season games. Is he ready to take starter’s minutes? For the sake of continuity, chemistry and coaching, I think the Clippity-Clops will pony up a two-year contract for Cassell once their season is done.

There’s also the niggling thought in the back of my head: Isn’t Sam I Am the same guy who, along with Sprewell, turned his back on the T-Wolves? Who’s to say that he won’t do the same to the Rappies if he doesn’t like the look of things during the season? And would he see eye-to-eye with Coach Mitchell?

RM: I agree that Cassell’s gotten under the skin of some of his previous coaches (George Karl comes to mind) but Mitchell’s a coach that players love to play for. With Toronto making a push towards being a playoff team I see Cassell fitting in nicely with this team and quickly becoming the leader of this team. Cassell isn’t a Jason Kidd or Steve Nash who will reshape the face of a franchise, but it is an upgrade over what Mike James did this season in Toronto. Some members of the media have knocked his attitude but it’s never been about Sam trying to “get his.” Whenever he has spoke out it’s because the team isn’t winning and he’s trying to get his team fired up.

Plus, with us having a player that looks like our mascot in Chris Bosh it wouldn’t hurt to add an alien to the team!

JW: We’re on the same page regarding the upgrade on MJ part. But would he be willing to go to a rebuilding franchise, reaching for the playoffs, when he has more of a sure thing in other clubs, including the Clippers? Besides, I think that Bryan Colangelo will try to swing for the fences, if this article in AZ Central is correct. Having said that, Cassell is not a bad Plan C.

RM: I think Sam just wants to win some games and make some money while he’s at it. If, and that’s a big if, the Clippers have any interest in keeping him then he’ll remain in La La Land but I have a feeling they want Livingston to run the show. Remember last summer when Cassell had a hissy fit in the media because the Clippers originally anointed Livingston as the starting point? I can’t shake the feeling that L.A. will show Cassell the door this summer and he’ll bolt for whoever offers him a sweet contract.

I’d have Sam I Am as a Plan B option, with Plan A being Luke Ridnour through a trade. I’ve heard some reports that Luke could be had for our first round pick and I see this move being similar to when we traded Bender to the Pacers for Antonio Davis. At the time the last thing we needed was another young player and Davis provided us with the player that pushed us over the edge into being a playoff caliber team. I think that Ridnour would provide us with the point guard who has a pass first mentality that would then open up more scoring chances for Morris Peterson, Chris Bosh and Charlie Villanueva. Plus, if we dealt the pick and say Eric Williams for Ridnour we would still have some cap space left this summer in order to lure a legit starting centre to Toronto. With a legit big man and a point guard that looks to pass first there’s no doubt in my mind that Toronto would be a playoff team next season.

You mention him as being a Plan C, what would plan A or B for you?

JW: Well, I don’t normally expect ambitious trades and signings, but I’d consider the line of thinking that Scott Carefoot suggested: go after a big talent on the outs with his current team. I didn’t like any of the options he listed, aside from maybe Corey Maggette, whom I think of as Plan B.

Someone in the Toronto media also suggested that the Raptors should be scavengers and pick the bones of other falling/failing teams, like Golden State (Jason Richardson?) and the reportedly dysfunctional Pacers (Jermaine O’Neal?) - those are Plan A level.

If you’re only looking at the PG spot, I would agree with Ridnour, and maybe consider those other names floating about, Brevin Knight and Speedy Claxton. I worry, though, that this might spell the end of Jose Calderon as a Raptor, especially if Colangelo can get Roko Ukic out of Tau Ceramica before his opt-out year, 2007.

To sum up my feelings on Sam Cassell as a Raptor:
I do not like him as a Rap.
I do not like him on our cap.
I do not like him at PG.
I do not like his wonky knee.
I do not like a mouthy guy.
I do not like a 6-mil’ buy.
I do not like a guard logjam.
I do not like that Sam I Am.

How about you Raptors fans? What do you think the Raps should do to solidify the point guard position this summer? Leave your comments below in the comments section.

By Ryan McNeill and Jeff Wong of


Thu 04/27/06, 6:57 am EST

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