Journeyman Point Guard Learns Value of Perseverance

It's good to be wanted, Dan Dickau thinks one week into his new job, point guard for the Los Angeles Clippers.

Which beats the alternative, which for Dickau is to think: why can't I hold a job?

The Prairie High School graduate gets around like Dennis Erickson, though unlike the vagabond football coach, Dickau doesn't job hop for sport. Wednesday night Dickau played in the Rose Garden during an NBA preseason game for the Clippers, the ninth franchise and 10th team he's been a part of during a six-year professional career.

Every time some team has had enough, the phone rings. It's good to be wanted.

Then again, it gets old having to answer the phone.

"I still have a job in this league until somebody doesn't want me, so I feel blessed with that," Dickau said. "At the same time, bouncing around a little makes some people question if you can play in this league."

Dickau's NBA carousel started during the 2002 NBA draft when Sacramento selected the former Gonzaga All-American with the final pick of the first round. Within a half hour, Dickau was traded to Atlanta.

No big deal. Draft day trades happen all the time. Little did Dickau know it was a glimpse into his future.

Less than two years later, the Hawks shipped Dickau to Portland as part of the Rasheed Wallace trade. Maybe it wasn't a dream opportunity, but for someone whose family and many friends lived within 20 miles of the Rose Garden, it was a dream job for Dickau.

It lasted about as long as summer employment. After the 2003-04 season, Dickau was traded to Golden State, then a few weeks later became part of a package that sent him to Dallas. A month into the season, Dickau was off again, to New Orleans.

That stay lasted 67 games, a good 67 games in which Dickau averaged a career-high 13.2 points. But it only resulted in another move, to Boston. Which eventually led to Dickau back to Portland for a second stint with the Blazers. Then last June on draft day, Dickau was off again, this time in a trade to New York.

If you're keeping score, that's eight trades, including three on draft day.

Though positive by nature, Dickau wondered if Ridgefield, his offseason home, was about to become his permanent address.

"I'm not going to lie. I wasn't excited about the move back east again," Dickau said. "This summer could have been that summer, when I finally got fed up with the situation."

Except that Dickau is a gym rat. And for the first time in several years, he was healthy during the summer. Dickau retrieved his basketball mojo playing in pickup games around the Vancouver-Portland area. When Dickau wasn't playing, he was often in the weight room, guided by a trainer.

"My best summer ever since I've been in the league," he said.

Better still, Dickau didn't have to go back east after New York waived him after buying out the final year of his contract. The Clippers, in need of point guard depth, kept an eye on Dickau. The minute Dickau became available, they pounced.

Dickau had 14 points and five assists in Los Angeles' 111-102 loss to Portland on Wednesday, a night after scoring 15 points and handing out seven assists in a loss at Denver.

"From everything I've seen in camp, and (the) games, indicates he's a heck of a pick up for us," Clippers' coach Mike Dunleavy said.

From Dickau's perspective, playing for the Clippers could be the best break he's had since landing with New Orleans. The starting point guard is Sam Cassell, who at 38 is nearing the end of his career. Backing up Cassell is Brevin Knight, who has had an erratic NBA career and earned a sharp rebuke from Dunleavy for coming into training camp out of shape. Shaun Livingston is out indefinitely with a dislocated knee cap.

"They said you will definitely have a chance to play," Dickau said.

Dickau has heard that before, but it still sounds good. But if there's one thing he's learned in the NBA, it's rent. He's leasing a house for his wife Heather and two kids in a quiet area outside of Los Angeles.

"In the situations I've been in," Dickau said, "you don't always want to buy."

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