LOS ANGELES - Sam Cassell signed a two-year, $13 million contract with the Clippers on Wednesday that made him happy.
The fact that he was happy with a contract, in itself, could be news.
For the majority of his 13 years in the NBA, Cassell has maintained that he's been underpaid. Yet this time around, he said, "I don't feel that I'm overpaid or underpaid. I feel good."
In the Clippers' best season in team history this past year, Cassell helped show that a lot of the negative rap about him was wrong. Some stories suggested he was self-centered, but he was far from it with the Clippers.
Other stories suggested that he often thought he was underpaid. Well, on Wednesday, he actually confirmed that.
"I'm the most underpaid player ever to play the game of basketball - not counting the guys like Bill Russell who came before me," he said. "I respect those guys, and they were drastically underpaid. So I'm not even talking about those guys. But in our era, where million dollar contracts take place, no doubt about it."
Cassell even added, "Every player in our league is underpaid. When Kevin Garnett was making $28 million, he was underpaid."
However, the 36-year-old point guard also put his contract theories into perspective and said, "If you make millions of dollars, you're always happy."
Cassell's re-signing with the Clippers is one of their two big offseason moves. They also have agreed to give a four-year, $24 million contract to Tim Thomas, who will be thrown a news conference this morning.
Thomas will replace Vladimir Radmanovic, who signed with the Lakers. On Wednesday, Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy was clear about the details of how the Thomas signing worked. While Dunleavy said that an offer was on the table for Radmanovic, he said that Thomas was more than a backup plan.
"The reality is that I called (Radmanovic and his agent David Bauman) and said we've made this deal with Tim Thomas," Dunleavy said.
With the Clippers having their first winning season in 14 years and making it to Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals, they appear to be on track for another strong season with all of their key players back and Thomas replacing Radmanovic.
Keeping Cassell could be yet another sign that the old criticism of owner Donald T. Sterling's - that he was more concerned with saving than winning - is long gone. Cassell will turn 37 in November, and the team could have tried to justify letting him go to the Atlanta Hawks for similar money by saying it was Shaun Livingston's time to seize the point guard job.
Livingston still is developing, and his development won't have to be rushed with Cassell back.
"I'd just like to say that, no doubt, Sam's performance, the leadership he showed this year, made a difference in the outcome of this season," Clippers GM Elgin Baylor said.
Joe Stevens can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at (562) 499-1338.