LAS VEGAS -- Last year, Sam Cassell split coaching duties with fellow assistant Don Newman at summer league for the Wizards. That won't happen this time.
Cassell spent a few minutes after a 90-minute practice at Cox Pavilion to motivate the 16-man roster that includes Otto Porter and Glen Rice, the only two players under contract with the Wizards for 2014-15. They open play Saturday vs. the Atlanta Hawks (CSN, 4:30 p.m. ET; replay Sunday, 8).
"We want you to play fast," Cassell said. "These guys have a decent grip of what we want to accomplish on offense but we don't want them playing overly fast. We don't want them to be out of control. Slow down. Use your teammates."
Cassell has been rumored to an assistant coaching candidate for Doc Rivers' staff with the Los Angeles Clippers. CSNWashington.com has been told, however, that while the interest may be legitimate that Cassell hasn't been contacted through his agent, Lonnie Cooper, to get permission from the Wizards for an interview.
He's focusing on the task at hand. Wins and losses aren't the most important thing in summer league as is the process. But Cassell would like this team to get off to a better start than last season when the Wizards were abysmal. Porter was limited by a right hamstring strain and eventually kept him on the bench for the rest of their stay in Las Vegas. Coach Randy Wittman, who was actively involved all week leading up in mini-camp, will be there watching how it unfolds.
"I don't think any of these summer league games you're going to see great execution for 40 minutes. We just want to execute as much as we can the way coach Witt drew it up. My job is to make sure these guys do it the right way," Cassell said. "I want guys to play together. Use each other. Have a style, have a swagger when they play. I'm looking for swagger, guys looking like they belong out there."
Cassell hasn't settled on his starting lineup, which likely will include point guard Maalik Wayns and Khem Birch. Then again, maybe not.
"I know two guys who'll be in the starting lineup," Cassell said, alluding to Porter and Rice.