According to a report released last weekend, Sam Cassell has reached an agreement to join Doc Rivers’ coaching staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. This will end Cassell’s five-year tenure with the Wizards and he’ll certainly be missed within the organization.
Sam has seen his share of franchise peaks and valleys since originally arriving in DC as part of Flip Saunders’ coaching staff in 2009. That team – successful and anchored by veterans – was poised to be a perennial Eastern Conference competitor before things unraveled. Since then, Sam has seen his first boss replaced, his team get mired in the lower rungs of the NBA, his new boss take the reigns, and the Wizards enjoy their most successful run in decades. That’s essentially a capsule of Washington basketball franchise history, and surviving it deserves its own merits.
With Cassell assisting with the development of John Wall, and contributing to the team’s success overall, it’s no secret that his name was would be mentioned in other coaching circles. In fact, last summer, Cassell was mentioned in a few rumors about possibly being interviewed for head coaching vacancies. There was also chatter that Cassell’s son, who was originally ruled ineligible to play by the University of Maryland, would help keep Cassell local as he prepared to start his career at UConn this fall.
But Sam is making what appears to be a solid decision. While the Clippers are still mired some controversy from the Donald Sterling fallout, Sam will move to a larger market and the staff of a great team. Cassell arguably has a more direct path to a head coaching position as the lead assistant under Rivers, who is likely nearing retirement. He’ll also be working with a seasoned, playoff-tested roster – somewhat of a departure from the young, up and coming Wizards core.
Cassell’s departure, while disappointing, creates a vacancy in Randy Wittman’s staff that can be used very creatively. For a team aiming to become a playoff mainstay and conference title contender, the Wizards can nab a former head coach, savvy in late game situations, or a new creative young mind.
We wish Sam the best of luck in his new role. He’ll be missed.
For pleasant memories, please scroll over a few lasting images we grabbed of Sam Cassell with the Wizards.
From 2010: Sam, Gilly, and John.
A huge factor in John Wall’s development and rise to stardom was Sam Cassell coaching his ass off with him.
Pre-rookie season, 2010:
Pre-return from stress injury, 2012:
Who can forget “these are MY guards!”