Make no mistake about it — Brad Stevens has good reason to be deliberate in picking his replacement as head coach of the Boston Celtics. Hiring a person that can get the most out of the Cs current roster, especially given the constraints he faces in improving the roster, will be crucial for Boston’s future success.
And despite the downturn in 2020-21, expectations remain relatively high for the Celtics. After all, All-Star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are still on the team. Moreover, Stevens himself was able to lead Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals less than a year ago with a very similar set of players.
On the other hand, the longer he waits to pull the trigger, the more competition he’ll have for landing a prime candidate.
Mere days after the Celtics’ front-office shuffle necessitated their coaching search, multiple other teams joined the fray. Namely, the Portland Trail Blazers, Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic, New Orleans Pelicans and Washington Wizards.
The latter opening is noteworthy because at least one popular candidate to replace Stevens could be an equally intriguing pick to fill Scott Brooks’ shoes in D.C.
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Is Sam Cassell to Washington a No-Brainer?
Philadelphia 76ers staffer Sam Cassell definitely checks a lot of boxes with regard to the Celtics job. He’s a longtime former player and All-Star with extensive experience on NBA benches as an assistant; the kind of person who would instantly command a level of respect from his players.
He also has ties to the Celtics organization, having helped the team win an NBA championship back in 2008.
Finally, he would be the kind of barrier-breaking hire the Cs are said to prioritize. Earlier this week, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the team would prefer to hire a Black head coach.
If you’re a Beantowner looking for Stevens to hire Cassell, though, the Wizards job opening up could be bad news.
A lot of those same attributes also make Cassell a strong candidate to take the job in Washington. And, unfortunately, his ties to the Wizards — and star guard Bradley Beal — run particularly deep.
Cassell Was a Wizards Fixture
The 51-year-old Cassell actually got his start in coaching as a Wizards assistant. Although he unofficially served as something of a player-coach for Doc Rivers in Boston during the 2008-09 campaign, his first real job was as a member of Flip Saunders’ staff in D.C. the following season.
When the Wizards made the decision to move on from Saunders in 2011-12, Cassell was retained by Randy Wittman. He would remain with the Wizards until 2014.
During his time in Washington, Cassell worked closely with Beal and his former teammate, John Wall. When Beal torched the Sixers for 60 points earlier this season, Rivers (now coach in Philly) even joked that it was Cassell’s fault, as relayed by NBC Sports Washington.
He also has a preexisting relationship with Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard, who has been with the franchise since 2003.
With the Wizards undoubtedly looking to keep Beal happy, hiring Cassell could be a game-changer. No other candidate has the same history with him and the franchise combined with such a strong resume.
Hiring him could be a no-brainer.