Sixers seek replacement as Sam Cassell joins Celtics coaching staff

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Sixers assistant coach Sam Cassell has agreed to a deal to join the Boston Celtics staff. Cassell will serve in the same capacity under head coach Joe Mazzulla, who took over on a full-time basis in 2022 following the suspension and ultimate firing of Ime Udoka.

This is a huge blow to the team as Cassell made a huge impact in Philadelphia during his three seasons with the 76ers. He is credited with helping Tyrese Maxey develop into a rising star and was a mentor to James Harden after his trade from Brooklyn in February 2022. Cassell was the only assistant coach involved in the Sixers’ game plan on both offense and defense and was previously in the running for the Houston Rockets head coaching position before Ime Udoka took the position on April 25th.

Cassell returns to the Celtics 15 years after winning a championship.

He played a total of fifteen seasons with eight teams including the Celtics, Timberwolves, Nets, and Rockets, the latter of whom he won back-to-back championships in 1994 and 1995. Cassell finished his career averaging 15.7 points, with 3.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game. He made his first and only All-Star appearance in 2004 with the Timberwolves when he averaged a career-best 19.8 points per game on 48% shooting from the field.

Prior to his tenure with the Sixers, he was an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards, and Los Angeles Clippers. It was with the Clippers that he coached under Doc Rivers, and he was brought along to the Sixers in 2020 when Rivers was named the 25th coach in franchise history. There were rumblings that he would be in consideration for the Sixers’ head coaching job this offseason when Rivers was dismissed, but this turned out not to be the case when the team hired Nick Nurse on June 1st.

The Philadelphia 76ers have a big challenge to fill Cassell’s void.

It is unclear whether the team plans to fill the assistant coaching vacancy from within or whether they will look elsewhere. The team currently has Dan Burke, Dave Joerger, Brian Adams, Eric Hughes, and Jamie Young on the staff but it remains to be seen if they will remain with the organization this season as Nick Nurse assembles his first staff. Whoever the Sixers decide to hire will have big shoes to fill as the team looks to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2001.