2. Sam Cassell
Sam Cassell has been a Doc Rivers assistant for quite some time, coaching with the Clippers from 2014-2020 (before relocating to Philadelphia with Rivers). He was an assistant for the Wizards for five years before that, giving him roughly 14 years of NBA coaching experience. Few coaches feel more deserving of their first head-coaching opportunity than Cassell, and maybe this summer his fortunes finally change.
The Sixers might not be the most obvious choice on paper, as Cassell is broadly known for his player development skills. He has played an outsized role in crafting the rise of Tyrese Maxey and coaching up the Sixers’ youngsters, most notably Paul Reed. But Cassell has years of NBA experience, playing and coaching, so pigeonholing him as the “young guys” coach is probably misguided.
Plus, there is great flaw in the logic that player development is less important for an older contender. Players can get better at any stage of their career, just ask J.J. Redick — he peaked in his mid-30s with the Sixers. Plus, if the Sixers want to bridge the gap between the current era and whatever comes next, it will be important to continue developing young talent on affordable long-term deals.
One of the benefits to employing Doc Rivers is the impressive coaching staff around him. Cassell is fourth in line on the Sixers’ bench. Dave Joerger, Rivers’ primary assistant, has NBA head coaching experience and Dan Burke, his No. 3 assistant, has been coaching in the NBA for even longer than Cassell. The Sixers have no shortage of quality in-house options if Rivers is due for a departure.