From the court to the sidelines, Sam Cassell has been through the ups and downs of being with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Widely known as one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history was that which brought the seasoned Sam Cassell to the Clippers in 2005. Cassell had been through it all at that point, having won two championships with the Houston Rockets in his first two years in the league. He played for a whole host of teams before the Minnesota trade led him to Los Angeles.
During his tenure with the Clippers, Cassell led the team alongside Elton Brand to the playoffs. This boasted the Los Angeles based team’s first appearance since 1997.
The Brand and Cassell led Clippers got through a young Carmelo Anthony led Nuggets team to reach the Conference Semifinals that year. In that series, Cassell matched up against that year’s MVP Steve Nash and the Clippers put up a fight taking the Phoenix Suns to seven games. Cassell averaged 18 points per game, 5.8 assists and 4 rebounds during the Clipper’s playoff run.
Cassell became an integral part of the team both on and off the court as he re-signed with the Clippers and remained with the till till injuries and a team rebuild forced a contract buyout in 2008.
The Boston Celtics came calling for Cassell’s services and saw immediate success with current Clippers head coach Doc Rivers at the helm, winning the NBA championship the following year.
Cassell retired following his championship win with Boston, tallying three titles in his storied career and found an assistant coaching job. Under former head coach at Minnesota Flip Saunders, Cassell served five seasons as assistant for the Washington Wizards. Cassell was prominent in the emergence and improvement of young guards John Wall and Bradley Beal.
After a five year stint with the Wizards, Cassell joined Doc Rivers’ coaching staff at his new position at the time for the Los Angeles Clippers. Clipper guard Austin Rivers constantly praises Cassell as being the driving force behind his yearly improvement. Cassell’s work on Rivers mid range game as well as play making has seen instantaneous results within the team. It was not that far removed that former Clipper point guard Chris Paul credited Cassell with being a great motivator and driving force between working elaborately with the team’s guards on skills and in game mentality.
With the Los Angeles Clippers coaching situation still uncertain, Cassell’s future with the franchise is still up in the air. Fans of the team however recognize how important Cassell’s contributions have been towards the success of the Clippers in the past decade. Whether he returns as an assistant coach, gets a head coaching nod or leaves for greener pastures, Sam Cassell will forever be enshrined as a fan favorite in Los Angeles.