Saturday, June 22, 2024

Celtics reportedly 'very keen' to elevate assistant coach Sam Cassell's role

Just a few days removed from winning the NBA Finals, the Celtics are reportedly seeking to promote one of their assistant coaches.

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Boston is "very keen" to elevate Sam Cassell on Joe Mazzulla's coach staff to prevent another team from hiring him to a similar role.

Last month C's lead assistant Charles Lee accepted a head coaching gig with the Charlotte Hornets and earlier this week the team's senior consultant in Jeff Van Gundy agreed to become lead assistant coach with the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Lakers, who just hired JJ Redick as their head coach, have shown interest in landing two former NBA players as assistants under Redick -- which could include Cassell -- per Stein's report.
"Boston is believed to be very keen to fend off Lakers interest in Sam Cassell to elevate Cassell on Joe Mazzulla's staff after the departures of Charles Lee (Charlotte’s new head coach) and Jeff Van Gundy (now a Clippers assistant to Tyronn Lue)," Stein wrote.
Cassell played from 1993-2009 and won a championship in Boston (2008) before becoming an assistant coach following his NBA career. He was hired by the Celtics just prior to the 2023-24 campaign and with the departure of Lee, Cassell could potentially slide in as the lead assistant role for Mazzulla.
"He's been in every seat on the bench in the NBA, so he knows how to communicate with every single player," Mazzulla said of Cassell back in May. "The first thing he does when we get on the plane is watch film. Even though he's a former player, he's a guy that wants to study the game. [He is] loyal. Communicates well. He's a good coach. Great coach. Happy to have him."
The 54-year-old could be a hot commodity with his lengthy resume, as Cassell has coached for the Washington Wizards (2009-14), Los Angeles Clippers (2014-20), Philadelphia 76ers (2020-23) both under Doc Rivers, and now the Celtics (2023-present).

The former point guard has been pivotal in the development of several players, including Bradley Beal, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Tyrese Maxey. Since arriving in Boston, he has also worked with Jayson Tatum as his position coach.
It's been great," Tatum said during training camp of Cassell as his position coach. "You know, he talks a lot; he's a very animated guy, a lot of personality, but he's, you know, very funny. A lot of great stories, and he knows a lot. He played 14–15 years in this league, well-respected, and it's great to have somebody that has been a player, had a lot of success, won championships. Learning a lot, and we love having him around."
While Cassell has expressed his desire to become a head coach, which could happen sooner rather than later, it would be an asset for the Celtics to retain his services as they look to repeat as champions come next season. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Boston Globe

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