The departure of Sam Cassell won’t leave an enormous crater in the Clippers season.  He has started only 33 of the Clippers 54 games though, when he’s been healthy, we haven’t seen too much of a drop off from last season [Sam still maintains a 17.00 PER].

Clipper Naçion shouldn’t take Cassell’s buyout as a repudiation of the organization.  I don’t sense that Sam harbors a “get me outta here” sentiment so much as the competitor in him licks his chops at the notion of going to a team that can win a ring.  In other words, it’s nothing personal and, on some level, it’s an illustration of that doggedness. 

Any rabid fan has “his kind of player,” and I can’t say that Cassell’s skill set personifies what Clipperblog, as an armchair GM, values.  Sam is a classic ShootFirst PG.  His defensive limitations are well-known, though I think he’s a better team defender than he often gets credit for.  I’ve always liked a PG who can post, though Sam’s [only] average ability to pass the ball sometimes limits his effectiveness in this capacity.

All that said, there’s something about Sam that speaks to the most human component of the professional game.  In his book, John Amaechi offers several revelations, the most obvious of which has been well-documented.  But Amaechi deftly addresses another insight – that few pro ballers actually play with any kind of romantic passion for the game. 

Sam Cassell might be one of the few guys in the NBA who wakes up every morning and says, “I get to go play ball today and, sheeeeet, they’re actually gonna pay me millions to do it!”  If Sam didn’t play professional ball, you just know he’d be the self-appointed mayor of the pickup game down at the Y.  After the gym closes, he’d be the guy who spends the next hour in the parking lot breaking down exactly what happened on the court.  It’s that great cliché of sport:  Sam Cassell would do it for free.  Though it was a fleeting moment in the larger history of this franchise, the Clippers were beneficiaries of Sam's infatuation with the game.  That's worth something.