Sampson keeps Cal connection in Denver
By Marc J. Spears
Denver Post Staff Writer
The Nuggets are replacing a big man from the University of California they lost with another big man from Cal.
Denver is expected to sign free-agent forward-center Jamal Sampson to a one-year, $798,112 contract today, according to his agent, Steve Heumann. The 6-foot-11, 235-pound journeyman arrived in Denver on Thursday afternoon to undergo a physical. Heumann said that if Sampson passes, as expected, the player will sign the contract Friday.
Sampson is expected to fill the void left by forward-center Francisco Elson, who parlayed his Nuggets career into a two-year, $6 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs.
"I don't know Francisco well, but I do know him from Cal," Sampson said. "I took into consideration the role he played and the role I can play coming there. It went well for him. Hopefully, it will go well for me."
Sampson, 23, will be playing for his fifth team in five seasons. After making the 2002 all-freshman team in the Pac-10, he left school and was drafted by the Utah Jazz with the 47th overall pick.
The Inglewood, Calif., native's draft rights were dealt to Milwaukee, where he played his rookie season under current Nuggets coach George Karl.
Sampson with the Sacramento Kings last season.
Sampson said he hasn't talked to Karl since the Kings played the Nuggets last season, but looked forward to being reunited with him. Heumann said Sampson received interest from four other teams, but the Karl
connection led his client to choose the Nuggets.
"He was the one who brought me into the league," Sampson said of Karl. "That was definitely a big factor in wanting to play there."
Said Karl: "Jamal is a young guy, (has) been in the league (four) years, been in Milwaukee. He's a big body."
Sampson has played sparingly for Milwaukee, the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte and Sacramento during his NBA career, averaging 2.4 points and 3.9 rebounds in 50 games. A cousin of former NBA all-star Ralph Sampson's, he played in 12 games with the Kings last season.
Despite his lack of playing time, he doesn't regret leaving Cal to enter the NBA.
"I'm happy for the route I took," said Sampson, who plans to move to Denver in mid-August. "It's made me a stronger person. I learned a lot. It has caused me to work hard for what I get.
"It's all about an opportunity to play. I haven't had an opportunity to show everything yet."
Marc J. Spears can be reached at 303-820-5449 or [email protected].
Bobcats Re-Sign Robinson
The Bobcats made the decision to keep another part of their core gropup of players from last year by re-signing swingman Bernard Robinson. The restricted free agent played his first two NBA seasons with Charlotte after being drafted by the Bobcats in 2004.
“Bernard has been a good fit for our team over our first two seasons and his versatility on both ends of the court allows him to help us in several ways,“ Bobcats General Manager and Head Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “We look for him to further develop his game and continue to be a quality team player on and off the court.”
The 6-6, 210-pounder appeared in 66 games with 18 starts this past season and averaged 6.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals in 19.7 minutes. Drafted by Charlotte in the second round (45th overall) of the 2004 NBA Draft, Robinson has played in 97 total games (19 starts) in two seasons, with career averages of 5.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.0 steals in 16.8 minutes.
Robinson scored a career-high 21 points on 8-11 shooting to go with three steals at Washington on March 15 and posted 12 points and a career-high five steals against Philadelphia on February 8. He also recorded his first double-double of his career with 11 points and 12 rebounds on January 2 at New Orleans/Oklahoma City
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