- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2009

Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders hired Randy Wittman and Sam Cassell to join him as assistants next season, the team announced Thursday.

“Randy and Sam will be excellent additions to our coaching staff, and both will be instrumental in helping us achieve our goals,” Saunders said in a release. “Randy brings a wealth of experience as a former head coach of two different teams and is very familiar with my system. I always regarded Sam as a coach on the floor during his playing days, and he brings instant credibility as a three-time NBA champion and a proven winner.”

Wittman coached under Saunders in Minnesota before leaving in 1999 to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers for two seasons. He then served as coach of the Timberwolves for portions of three seasons before he was fired after the team started 4-15 this season. The Washington Bullets drafted Wittman 22nd in 1983, then he played nine seasons in the NBA for Atlanta, Sacramento and Indiana.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to work with Flip again, and I’m confident that the staff he is assembling will complement the talented roster that is already in place,” Wittman said in the release.

It will mark the first coaching stint for Cassell, who won three championships in 15 seasons as a player before announcing his retirement Thursday. The Baltimore native played for Saunders in Minnesota for two seasons and was on the Boston Celtics’ roster for the first half of this season but didn’t play. The Celtics traded him in February to Sacramento, but he didn’t play there, either.

Cassell was considered as a vocal leader in the Celtics’ locker room.

“After 15 seasons playing in this league, I have accomplished all that I have dreamed of as a player,” Cassell said in the release. “Now the time has come for me to take my love for the game to the coaching ranks and pass on what I’ve learned. This team is loaded with talent, and it’s a great way for me to start my coaching career.”

Wittman and Cassell ran the Wizards’ predraft workouts Thursday and are slated to meet with the media Friday.

The Wizards, according to sources, will not bring back Phil Hubbard, Randy Ayers and Dave Hopla, Eddie Jordan’s assistants who served under interim coach Ed Tapscott after Jordan was fired. The lone holdover will be Wes Unseld Jr.

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