Could the Rockets miss out on Sam Cassell?

Head coach Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers and assistant coach Sam Cassell (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Head coach Doc Rivers of the LA Clippers and assistant coach Sam Cassell (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

With the Houston Rockets interested in hiring Sam Cassell, a possibility exists that they could miss out on the former Clutch City title member.

The Houston Rockets are one of five NBA teams with a coaching vacancy, as the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls filled their voids with Doc Rivers and Billy Donovan. The Rockets appear primed to hire a young assistant coach, which would give them their best chance of a Nick Nurse type hire, while also allowing them to avoid the high salary of a Doc Rivers-type hire.

Speaking of Rivers, the Rockets reportedly were interested in bringing him in for an interview, but he’s no longer an option, as he accepted the Philadelphia 76ers head coaching job. But the Rivers saga could have far more consequences than just costing the Rockets an opportunity for his services.

The Rockets reportedly have interest in Tyronn Lue and Sam Cassell, both of whom were Rivers’ assistants during the 2019-20 seasons with the LA Clippers. Lue decided to take an interview with his former boss David Griffin with the New Orleans Pelicans, and considering how the two won a title together, the possibility of reuniting has to look promising for Lue, and especially considering the youth on the Pelicans roster.

Lue was rumored to be in consideration for the LA Clippers job, but if he inks a deal with the Pelicans, he’d obviously be off the market. If such a scenario takes place, one would have to think that Cassell would not only be the favorite to land the job with the Clips, but the Clips would also move quickly to make him their 26th coach in franchise history.

Could the Houston Rockets miss out on Sam Cassell?

If the Rockets wind up striking out on Rivers, Lue, and Cassell, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, as they’ve got interviews lined up with at least three other candidates, including Stephen Silas of the Dallas Mavericks, Wes Unseld Jr. of the Denver Nuggets, and David Vanterpool of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Rockets could also turn to a familiar face in Jeff Van Gundy, who served as the 10th coach in Rockets franchise history.

But although the Rockets could simply replace Cassell with a different option, such as Vanterpool, Unseld, Silas, or Van Gundy, such a set of circumstances would mean much more than just having to replace Cassell. Many of Cassell’s Clutch City Rockets teammates have been clamoring for him to get the Rockets coaching job, which would make it even more pain-staking to see him get hired elsewhere.

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This would especially be the case if Cassell landed the Clippers job, as the Rockets would have to see him in the same conference. Hopefully, for the Rockets’ sake, this doesn’t happen, but if Lue winds up getting the Pelicans coaching job, Rockets fans should prepare themselves.