Kendrick Perkins campaigns for Sam Cassell to be next Celtics head coach

Getty Images. From left to right, Rajon Rondo, Sam Cassell, Eddie House, and Kendrick Perkins.

Well, we know who Kendrick Perkins wants to be the Celtics next head coach. After the bombshell news broke this morning that longtime president of basketball operations Danny Ainge would be retiring and Celtics head coach Brad Stevens would be replacing him, fans and analysts quickly weighed in on who the next head coach should be. And while the dust has barely settled, former Celtic Sam Cassell is already receiving some major support from his former teammate in Big Perk. Perkins outlined a strong argument in favor of Cassell as a head coach. Cassell played 15 years in the NBA, winning a championship in 2008 in his one year on the Celtics, and winning two championships in ‘94 and ‘95 early in his career as a member of the Houston Rockets. Immediately after Cassell retired following his season with the Celtics, he became an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards. From there, he served as an assistant coach under another former Celtics head coach in Doc Rivers, both for the Los Angeles Clippers, and currently for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cassell has paid his dues both as a player and as an assistant coach, and deserves an opportunity as a NBA head coach. Another point that Perkins discusses is Cassell’s time playing and coaching superstar players. In his career, Cassell played with NBA Hall of Famers such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce. In his time as an assistant coach, he mentored players like John Wall, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and now Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The Celtics have two superstar players in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, so finding a head coach that can connect with them and bring out the best in them on the court should be the top priority.

I strongly agree with Perkins that the next head coach of the Boston Celtics must be a former NBA player himself. At this point in their careers, Brown and Tatum need someone that can teach them how to develop as leaders and unlock their full potential, and Brad Stevens couldn’t do that. Cassell has standing and respect in this league, and can connect and relate to players in a way that only a former player can.

Obviously Cassell isn’t the only former NBA player vying for a head coaching position in the NBA, but I think his tenure as an assistant coach is another valuable asset that he has on his resume. As Stevens moves into a front office position without any formal experience in his new position, it’ll make his own transition easier if he hires someone that is at least familiar with the requirements of being a NBA coach. Plus, another added bonus is that Cassell is familiar with Boston as a city, and knows about Boston sports culture. Boston fans view championship players fondly, so if Cassell were to be hired as the next head coach of the Celtics, he’d be coming into town with some pre-existing goodwill courtesy of the 2008 NBA championship. One final element to consider is an aspect Perkins touched on while on ESPN’s First Take. He talked about the lack of opportunities for African American coaches in the NBA, and how they would not be given the same luxury of a promotion that Brad Stevens was given. Perkins wasn’t disparaging Stevens in his remarks, but was instead commenting on the league-wide issue with a lack of opportunity in the front office for African Americans. The Celtics have received a lot of criticism in the past week for the lack of diversity in their front office, and could demonstrate some recognition of this issue by hiring an African American coach like Sam Cassell. I’m not saying that the Celtics should purely hire Cassell solely because of his skin color, but in a league that is predominantly African American, it would be good to see an increased percentage of people of color in front office and coaching positions.

There’s going to be a lot of speculation regarding the Celtics’ head coaching position, likely until the Celtics make an official decision. This will be a highly sought after job, given who the Celtics are as a franchise, and the ability to coach two young superstars in Brown and Tatum. While Perkins might not have any inside information about who the C’s will hire right now, he’s at least making his case right now about who they should hire. Will his recommendation lead to the hiring of Sam Cassell? Only time will tell.