Sam Cassell a candidate for Jazz head coaching job, per report

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Report: Sixers' Cassell a candidate for open Jazz job originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Sixers assistant coach Sam Cassell is interviewing with the Jazz for Utah’s open head coaching job, The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Tony Jones reported Wednesday. 

If Cassell were to get the Jazz job, the Sixers would feel his absence in many ways. He’s an exceptionally active assistant who ran James Harden through individual post-practice and post-shootaround workouts and offered ceaseless advice to players.

Though the 52-year-old Cassell doesn’t tend to sugarcoat his criticisms, he appears to have strong relationships with the Sixers’ top players.

Asked about a lengthy conversation in March with himself, Harden and Cassell related to pick-and-roll strategy and spacing, Joel Embiid joked, “Well, he’s kind of old school, so he doesn’t really understand what we’re saying.”

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers called Cassell the “turnover whisperer” last year for his progress in that area with Ben Simmons. A messy standoff between Simmons and the Sixers meant that Tyrese Maxey took the three-time All-Star’s starting spot to begin this season. Cassell is close with Maxey and played an important part in the 21-year-old’s second-season surge. Maxey made the Rising Stars Challenge, finished sixth in Most Improved Player voting, and lifted his three-point percentage from 30.1 to 42.7.

Before acquiring Harden and dealing Simmons to the Nets, the Sixers pushed Maxey to embrace the leadership aspect of playing point guard. Cassell was invaluable with Maxey’s growth there.

“Oh, he’s vocal. He’s very vocal,” Maxey said with a laugh on Jan. 29. “Sam’s a three-time champion so when he talks, everybody listens — because at the end of the day, that’s what we all want to be. We all want to be champions in the league as well. He knows exactly what he’s talking about.

“And like I said, when he talks, we listen. And he’s done a really good job of knowing when to get on guys. And then he also pulls guys to the side. Coach Doc, he has to coach, coach, coach all the time. Sometimes after he coaches you hard, Sam will pull you to the side and give you a lesser talk — a little bit calmer. He just does a good job of making it balanced.”

As Maxey noted, Cassell won three NBA titles as a player, the last with Rivers’ 2008 Celtics. He served on Rivers’ Clippers staff and also coached in Washington from 2009 through 2014.

Cassell reportedly interviewed for the Wizards’ head coaching position last offseason, a job that ultimately went to Wes Unseld Jr.

Utah is apparently considering a wide range of candidates in its search to replace Quin Snyder, who resigned earlier this month. Per Hoops Rumors, Cassell is the 15th reported candidate for the Jazz.