SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) – Sam Cassell doesn’t like to miss, even while practicing free throws.

He brings high expectations to the Los Angeles Clippers this season after being traded from Minnesota.

“The team needs leadership,” said Cassell, who averaged 16.2 points in 12 NBA seasons and was an All-Star last year.

“I don’t want to be the man. Elton (Brand), Corey (Maggette), those are the stars. I know how to be effective in my own way, and that’s being a leader. This is the perfect time for me to be here.”

Cassell won two NBA titles with Houston, then helped Minnesota to the Western Conference finals two years ago.

The Clippers haven’t experienced that kind of winning. They’re coming off a 37-45 record last season.

“At first, I was skeptical,” Cassell said. “You play in this league a while and you hear things about the losing and all that.”

Inspiration, Cassell says, came from coach Mike Dunleavy.

“He told me it wasn’t so much about the organization and the history here. It was about the direction of the team,” said Cassell, who turns 36 in November. “This is an up-and-coming team. He told me I’d have the most satisfying year of my career here.”

A year ago, Cassell was dissatisfied with his contract, and skipped the first two days of Timberwolves’ camp before hurting his hamstring. The injury limited him to career-low 59 games and he averaged 13.5 points, his lowest in 10 years.

“We needed a true leader,” Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said. “Sam has a history of making big plays and big shots. The guys have a great deal of respect for him. We’re going to be a much better team.”

The Clippers acquired Cassell in a sign-and-trade deal in August.

“I’m the straw that stirs the coffee,” he said.

AP-ES-10-05-05 2203EDT


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.