Just a few days after Brad Stevens spoke about adding to the Boston Celtics’ experience within its coaching staff, he does just that.
The Boston Celtics have taken a step toward bettering their team for next season’s run. In his postseason press conference, Brad Stevens stressed the experience side of the club’s coaching staff needed an upgrade. First reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania and later confirmed, the Cs have added former Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers assistant Sam Cassell to the team’s coaching staff. The former three-time NBA champion has worked under Doc Rivers since 2014. With Nick Nurse now in the City of Brotherly Love, the former Celtic was up for grabs as the new head man has the ability to pick out his own staff.
Cassell played over 1120 games in the association from 1994 to 2008 across both the postseason and regular season. His familiarity with the city of Boston including the expectations of playing there is going to be vital as this team looks to get over the final hurdle to secure the franchise’s 18th championship. In his first two campaigns in the NBA, Cassell reached the pinnacle of the NBA. Having someone alongside Joe Mazzulla with the experience of a lengthy career that included individual and much team success could be exactly what Boston needs.
From a consistent starter to a bench piece, Cassell has been it all.
Back with the 76ers, the 53-year-old helped support the growth of Tyrese Maxey at the point guard position. The idea that he now gets to work with someone like Marcus Smart who wants to be a guard on an NBA championship-winning team is enticing. There is still a lot of work to do surrounding the roster and even the coaching staff if Ime Udoka takes back some of his former assistants, but bringing back the Maryland native to Boston after 15 years is a step in the right direction.
Since he was a player, Cassell has always had a desire to better the people around him with the knowledge that he obtained through his pro years. Immediately after finishing his career with the Boston Celtics, the 2004 NBA All-Star signed a deal to become an assistant with the Washington Wizards.
Excluding Damon Stoudamire, Boston’s assistant coaches accounted for 16 total years as an NBA assistant when the final buzzer sounded in Miami. Cassell alone has 14.
Stevens could have been listening to Celtics’ legend Paul Pierce who suggested Cassell on an episode of the Ticket and The Truth podcast with Kevin Garnett:
"“I’m going to add to what I got right now. I’ve got to add to it. It’s already good. I’ve got to add to it. It’s already there. So, I’m bringing Mazzulla back but maybe I’m bringing in a veteran coach, like Sam Cassell. Some influence on the bench. Respect. A champion. Been a coach. Understands what it takes.”"
Sam Cassell is exactly the kind of coach the Boston Celtics need going forward
For Mazzulla and the entire organization, this was a perfect hire. Cassell is someone that one day should be a head coach, and the fact that he is not at this point is surprising. Not only has he been endorsed by Rivers more than once, but the former Wizards assistant was also rumored to be interviewed by multiple teams who had vacancies at the top of their staff over the past few years.
Before he embarks on that adventure, Cassell takes his wisdom to the Boston Celtics bench. Over a decade after he sat in that same row of players and coaches in green, the 2008 champion plots a way to make an instant impact once again. It is not the final piece to the puzzle, but for a team that was at an extreme low just a few weeks ago, this should not only give hope to the fans but inform the players that they now have someone they can relate to.
It is not about making major changes to a Boston Celtics squad with so much talent, it is about these small additions that could very well go a long way.