Sixers assistant Sam Cassell interviewed for the Wizards’ head coaching job on Tuesday, according to The Athletic’s Fred Katz.
Cassell, 51, was an NBA point guard from 1993 to 2008 and served as a Wizards assistant from 2009 to 2014. He then left to join Doc Rivers’ staff on the Clippers and moved to the Sixers after Rivers was fired by Los Angeles following the team’s second-round loss in the 2020 playoffs.
Cassell was assigned to work with Ben Simmons, and the two formed a close partnership.
“I think overall, we just work together,” Simmons said in February. “I can relate to him. We talk every day and we have a great relationship. It’s only growing. He’s helping me a lot with my game and running this team.”
Rivers called Cassell the “turnover whisperer” in January, noting he’d “destroy” Simmons whenever the three-time All-Star gave the ball away.
“Sam’s been on my ass, which is a good thing,” Simmons said. “He’s trying to help me. I’m the point guard, I have the ball in my hands a lot of the time, so I’ve got to take care of it. We’re trying to make sure teams don’t have fast breaks, and that starts with turnovers and not rebounding the ball. As long as I take care of the ball, lower my turnovers and find my guys and have high assists, I think we’ll be all right.”
Simmons and Cassell worked together on the 24-year-old's free throw shooting. With Simmons at 67.1 percent from the foul line before the All-Star break, it appeared he was making progress.
“Me and Sam work every day on it,” he said. “Just taking my time, getting into a rhythm and knowing, if I do, why I miss. I think that was big. So I’m confident going to the line. I love getting those free throws and having that confidence to knock ‘em out, especially if I’m going to shoot 10 or 12 a game.”
However, Simmons’ free throws were a massive postseason problem. He shot 34.2 percent from the foul line in the playoffs and thought the issue was more mental than form-related.
Cassell, Dan Burke and Dave Joerger were Rivers’ top assistants this past season. He praised them often.
“It’s the best staff I’ve had, maybe ever,” Rivers said on June 21. “Dan Burke and Dave Joerger and Sam Cassell — I don’t think I’ve ever had a better bench as far as knowledge. I thought we ran just some beautiful things defensively and offensively.”
In addition to Washington, the Pelicans and Magic are the other current NBA head coaching vacancies.