Is it Time for the LA Clippers to Give Sam Cassell the Keys?
In the wake of Doc Rivers' departure from the LA Clippers, several candidates have emerged to replace the former head coach's position on the team. Among them are Tyronn Lue, Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Brown, Wes Unseld Jr. and Darvin Ham — most of whom would be welcome additions to the organization. Surprisingly, though, there's one name that hasn't been circulating regarding the job: Clippers assistant Sam Cassell.
A three-time NBA champion as a player, Cassell has been coaching since the 2009-2010 season and had been an assistant on Rivers' staff in Los Angeles since 2014. He's been linked to other vacancies — most notably the Houston Rockets, where he got his start as a player — but there's been no word as to whether the Clippers will consider him for the job.
Perhaps that's a good thing. The Clippers tend to be more tight-lipped than other organizations, and as far as we know, Cassell could have already interviewed for the position. There's really no way of knowing.
But if he isn't a candidate to become LA's next head coach, one would have to wonder why.
We already touched on Cassell's coaching experience, but his expertise goes well beyond that. In 2014, five-time All-Star John Wall credited Cassell for his development in the early years of his career. He helped bring Paul Pierce to the Washington Wizards earlier that season and helped the franchise win its first playoff series in nearly a decade.
Cassell has also been lauded for his high basketball IQ by Rivers, who said that he should be a head coach before the season came to an end.
It's hard to say how much stock LA would put into an endorsement from Rivers, but Cassell fits the mold for the organization's ideal head coach.
According to The Athletic's Jovan Buha, the Clippers want their next coach to be a "high-level game strategist who values progress and innovation" and upholds the "underdog" attitude that LA established during the 2018-2019 season. Player development is also on the list for LA, as well as a desire to get back to playing "fun and competitive" basketball.
Cassell fits that profile to a T.
If Lue doesn't end up landing the job, there's an argument to be made that Cassell would be the best available candidate. He's already familiar with the organization and is respected by the team, he's full of energy, and he has the potential to lead this franchise to its first-ever NBA title.