Clippers, Timberwolves trade Jaric, Cassell
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has acquired guard Marko Jaric from the Los Angeles Clippers in a sign-and-trade deal along with guard Lionel Chalmers for guard Sam Cassell and a conditional first-round pick (lottery protected) in the 2006 NBA Draft. Per team policy, terms of Jaric's contract were not disclosed.
"We're extremely excited to have acquired Marko," said Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Operations Kevin McHale. "He is a very versatile player who has the ability to play the one, two or three spots on the floor. With Marko, we've added another player who can break down the defense and is a pass first point guard. Lionel is a player that we think has some upside and will compete for a roster spot in training camp."
Jaric, a 6-7, 217-pound guard from Serbia-Montenegro, has averaged 8.5 points (.401 FG%, .343 3-FG%, .736 FT%), 2.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in 174 regular-season games (103 started) with the Clippers (2002-03 - 2004-05). In 2004-05, the three-year veteran set career highs in points (9.9 ppg), assists (6.1 apg), minutes (33.1 mpg), steals (1.68 spg), field goal percentage (41.4%), and three-point field goal percentage (37.1%) in 50 games (41 started). Jaric ranked 15th in the NBA in assists per turnover (3.09). Also, he dished out 10 or more assists on eight occasions and registered a career-high six point/assist double-doubles. Jaric missed 32 games due to two separate right foot stress fractures and had two stints on the Injured List.
"It's tough losing a veteran player like Sam, but this was a great opportunity for us to gain a good, young combo guard," said Timberwolves head coach Dwane Casey. "Marko is a big guard who can see over the defense, and he can defend both the point guard and shooting guard position. We feel we've really upgraded our defense and our team with the addition of Marko. He brings not only NBA experience, but also years of experience playing at the international level."
Jaric was drafted in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft (30th overall) by the Clippers. Prior to joining the NBA, Jaric was the only player to ever win back-to-back Italian League Championships with two different teams: 2000 - Fortitudo Bologna and 2001 - Kinder Bologna. Originally an early entry candidate for the 1998 NBA Draft, Jaric withdrew his name from consideration to sign with Fortitudo Bologna. Additionally, he was a member of the Yugoslavian National Team that won the 2002 World Basketball Championships.
Chalmers, a 6-0 guard, appeared in 36 games for the Clippers during his rookie season in 2004-05. He posted averages of 3.1 points (.460 FG%), 1.4 assists and 12.0 minutes per game. He scored a career-high 15 points at Denver on March 18, 2005 and tallied a career-best six assists vs. New Orleans on Dec. 21, 2004. Chalmers, who played collegiately at Xavier, was selected in the second round (33rd overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft by the Clippers. He averaged 12.7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 123 games during his four-year career, and finished 14th on Xavier's all-time scoring list with 1,556 points.
Entering his 13th NBA season, Cassell averaged 13.5 points, 5.1 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 25.8 minutes in 59 games played during the 2004-05 season. Cassell also connected on 319-687 FG (.464) and 134-155 FT (.865) on the year. He was sidelined for 23 games last season with a strained right hamstring.
Los Angeles Clippers: Vice President of Basketball Operations Elgin Baylor: “We’re excited to bring in a veteran player like Sam who brings nine years of playoff experience and two championships. The addition of Sam strengthens our back court. He’s a big time scorer who is one of the best in the league when it comes to taking and making the big shot in the closing moments of a ball game.”
The 24th overall selection in the 1993 NBA Draft by the Houston Rockets, Cassell has tallied 16.2 points, 6.2 assists, 3.3 rebounds, 1.15 steals and 30.5 minutes per game over his career. He brings a wealth of playoff experience to Los Angeles, averaging 13.1 points and 4.8 assists in 103 career playoff contests. Additionally, Cassell helped lead Houston to back-to-back NBA Championships in his rookie season of 1994 and in 1995.
Cassell turned in his most productive NBA campaign in 2003, when he tallied 19.8 points, 7.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds in 81 games played for Minnesota, helping the Timberwolves reach the 2004 Western Conference Finals. He was also named an NBA All-Star that season, scoring four points and dishing out seven assists in 13 minutes played.
The Clippers now hold a first round selection (lottery protected) in the 2006 NBA Draft, after having originally traded their own pick to Orlando as part of the transaction that brought Corey Maggette to the Clippers in a draft day trade on June 28, 2000. That draft pick now belongs to the New Jersey Nets.