The Celtics were looking to add an assistant coach with NBA experience to their staff this summer. Just days into the offseason, they found one.
Sam Cassell – who was a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 – will join Boston’s coaching staff as an assistant under Joe Mazzulla, according to a report Sunday from The Athletic.
Cassell, who played 15 years in the NBA as a point guard and was a three-time champion, has been an assistant coach for the last 14 years, including the last nine under Doc Rivers in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Rivers was fired by the 76ers last month after the Celtics eliminated them in the second round, and Cassell was reportedly in the mix to replace him before Nick Nurse was hired.
Cassell is very highly regarded in basketball coaching circles and it seems likely he’ll be the Celtics’ top assistant under Mazzulla, whose coaching staff is being replenished after he worked shorthanded in his first season as a head coach.
The Celtics lost top assistant Damon Stoudamire in March, and he was never replaced despite attempts in doing so. On Friday, Ime Udoka revealed he intends to hire away multiple Celtics assistants – who had initially followed him to Boston in 2021 – to work under him with the Rockets. Ben Sullivan, who was Boston’s top assistant after Stoudamire departed, Mike Moser and Garrett Jackson are reportedly leaving to join Udoka’s staff in Houston, and Celtics assistant Aaron Miles is also reportedly drawing interest for a new job.
Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said Thursday at his end-of-season press conference that the team was going to add at least one assistant with NBA experience and the 53-year-old Cassell fits the bill. Paul Pierce, who was a teammate of Cassell on the 2008 title team, endorsed him during a Showtime podcast last week.
“These cats went to the Finals,” Pierce said in a recent episode of the “Truth and Ticket” podcast. “They were one game away from the Finals. You’ve just got to take a deep breath and say, ‘Where do we get better at?’ It starts at the top. …
“You can’t keep bringing in new voices. 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.”