Evaluating Lakers Head Coaching Candidates: Sam Cassell
Sam Cassell, Lakers
(Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers have started their head coaching search in earnest as they’ve lined up several candidates to interview over the next couple of weeks.

While JJ Redick has reportedly become the early favorite for the job, the Lakers are doing their due diligence and evaluating other options. Their list of candidates includes a bevy of assistant coaches around the league, but one name gaining steam is Boston Celtics assistant Sam Cassell.

A former player who won three NBA championships during his time in the league, Cassell has become a popular candidate in recent years for head coaching vacancies. Cassell played 15 years in the NBA for several teams, but most notably with the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Immediately after retiring, Cassell was hired by the Washington Wizards as an assistant coach, launching his coaching career. After five seasons on Washington’s bench, Cassell followed his former Boston head coach Doc Rivers to Los Angeles to help coach the Clippers. When Rivers left the Clippers to become the head coach for the Philadelphia 76ers, Cassell followed him there as well and spent an additional three seasons with him.

This past year marks Cassell’s first season under Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla, who has Boston looking like the favorites to win the 2024 NBA title. Cassell has been instrumental in their success, serving as a bridge between the coaching staff and the locker room.

Even if Cassell ultimately doesn’t land the head coaching position in Los Angeles, he could be on the move as Rivers has reported interested in having the former point guard reunite with him in Milwaukee.

Lakers candidate Sam Cassell’s strengths

Role players typically translate well to coaching because they see the game from all perspectives, and Cassell would seem to fit this trend given his extensive time on sidelines the past decade-plus. His experience in and around locker rooms give him credibility amongst players.

However, an underrated aspect to consider is Cassell’s representation as he is currently signed with Klutch Sports whose most famous clients are Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Having that sort of connection to the team’s stars is certainly a positive.

Lakers candidate Sam Cassell’s weaknesses

As is the case with some of the other candidates, the biggest knock on Cassell is he would be a first-time head coach if hired. He’s also been known to be brutally honest with players, something that could work against him on a veteran-laden team like the Lakers.

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