Not much was made of Sam Cassell winning his 3rd ring after latching on with the Boston Celtics late this season. As his career winds down it is interesting to note just how successful of a career he has had.
Not only has Cassell won 88 playoff games with 6 different teams but he has won everywhere he went. More impressively, he has taken teams that are perennially down and won with them. Then when he leaves the team carries on with their ways. Winning in the era in which he won such as the '90s Nets, '90s Bucks, Timberwolves, and clippers is far more impressive than the fact that he's a career 16 pt & 6 asst guy.
1. Houston Rockets: after being drafted 24th, he splits time with Kenny Smith and wins back to back championships in his first 2 years.
2. He was traded from Houston to Phoenix to Dallas to New Jersey all in 1996-97 season. He was a major piece in deals for Charles Barkley & Jason Kidd.
3. In '97-'98 he helped turned the New Jersey Nets around, making the playoffs after 3 straight 30 or less win seasons.
4. In the shortened '98-'99 season he got hurt in game 1 then was traded to the Bucks in a deal that landed the Nets Stephon Marbury. New Jersey went 73-141 the next 3 years. Milwaukee went on to the playoffs for the first time in 7 seasons as Cassell returned after the trade in '98-'99.
5. The Bucks went to the playoffs 4 out of 5 seasons with Cassell. In 2000-01 the Bucks were a game 7 away from the finals.
6. After 2002-03 Cassell was dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The first season with Minnesota, Cassell was 2nd team All-NBA. The team won 58 games and went to the conference finals and lost with Cassell out with an injured hip. Before Cassell, the Timberwolves won 7 playoff games ever. In '03-'04 they won 10.
7. Minnesota won 44 games in '04-'05 but missed the playoffs. They dealt Cassell to the Clippers.
8. Before Cassell came to the Clippers they had won 4 playoff games in 28 seasons as a franchise and never won a playoff series since moving from Buffalo in 1978. In Cassell's first season with the LA Clippers the team won the most games since 1975 (Buffalo Braves). They won 7 playoff games losing in game seven of the western conference semi-finals.
9. In an injury riddled '06-'07 season, the Clippers won 40 games but missed the playoffs.
10. After being bought out this season he won a title in his first season with the Boston Celtics.
HIS CAREER IS BEST APPRECIATED WHEN YOU LOOK AT BEFORE-SAM (BSAM) AND AFTER-SAM (ASAM):
Cassell wins 2 championships with Rockets, 51 wins a year in 3 years
BSAM: 6 playoff wins in 3 years
ASAM: 2 winnings seasons & 2 playoff series wins in 3 years
Goes to playoffs with New Jersey Nets in his only full season there
BSAM: avg. 29 wins 3 years before SAM
ASAM: avg. 24 per yr in 3 years after
Takes Milwaukee to game 7 of conference finals & playoffs 4 times in 5 years, all 5 winning seasons
BSAM: 7 year playoff drought, average 29 wins a season over that span
ASAM: average 33 wins a year over 5 seasons with 0 winning seasons
Took Minnesota to game 7 of the conference finals
BSAM: Minnesota never won a playoff series, 7-22 in playoffs in 7 seasons
ASAM: average 29 wins a season over 3 seasons
Leads Los Angeles Clippers to game 7 of western conference semifinals with 7 playoff wins, wins 87 games in 2 years
BSAM: Clippers avg. 25 wins a year over 8 years, 4 playoff wins in 28 years
ASAM: 23 win season after Cassell suits up for 38 games before buyout
BY THE NUMBERS:
winning seasons :
3 with Houston Rockets
'96-'97 traded 3 times (HOU/PHX/DAL/NJ)
1 with New Jersey Nets
5 with Milwaukee Bucks
2 with Minnesota Timberwolves
1 with Los Angeles Clippers
losing season 40-42 with Clippers
1 with Boston Celtics
playoffs in 11 of 15 seasons
winning seasons in 13 of 15 seasons
3 Championship Rings (Houston 2, Boston)
2 Conference Finals - both game 7 losses (Milwaukee, Minnesota)
2 Conference Semi-finals (Los Angeles Clippers, Houston)
4 playoff first round (Milwaukee 3, New Jersey)
88 CAREER PLAYOFF WINS
93rd all time in scoring - Walt Frazier ranks 95th
29th all time assists - Larry Bird is 32nd
27th in Free Throw percentage - ahead of Mitch Richmond, .0047 behind Chris Mullin
84th in career free throws - 3 more than Pete Maravich
53rd in assists per game all time
If I am an NBA executive I might just put Robert Horry & Sam Cassell on the end of the bench until they are 50 just to see what would happen.