By ROBERT LEE
Journal Sports Writer
BOSTON - Sam Cassell is in a transition phase in his life.
He knows that his career as a basketball player is nearly over and he's OK with that.
Last year his experience and craftiness helped Boston win its first NBA championship in 22 years.
He averaged 7.1 points and 2.1 assists per game last season en route to winning his third NBA title. This year, he has yet to play in a game.
Cassell is at every practice working hard with his teammates, but on game night, his role has been a bit different.
He is not just a cheerleader on game night. He helps coach the Celtics as well.
He sees things from different angles then the players see them on the court and he tells them about it during timeouts.
When his playing days are over, Cassell wants to be a coach. Even though he has been getting an early jump on his future career so far this season, don't call him a coach just yet.
"I'm a player," Cassell said. "When you're 18-2, as a winning team, you don't fix nothing if it isn't broke. It's not broke. Doc understand what I can do. He sees me working hard every day in practice. I get the best of both worlds. I work on my game. I'm definitely going to, at some point of the season, help this team.
"It's December right now. I just have to stay positive. I enjoy the guys I'm around. I enjoy the coaches. I have learned a lot from the coaches. I understand what the next step in my career is going to be and I'm fulfilling both of my needs."
Cassell is 39-years-old and has played in the NBA for 15 years. That's something that he is very proud of.
"I'm in a stage of my career right now where only four or five percent of guys have played this long in the league," Cassell said. "When I get the opportunity, I'll take advantage of it. I'll be ready, but I'm patient. It's a marathon. It's not a sprint. It's only December....There is a lot of basketball left so I'm not discouraged about not playing right now."
Cassell said that he had the opportunity to play for several other teams this season, but he wanted to stay in Boston to try to help the Celtics defend their title both as a player and as a coach.
"I know for a fact that if I didn't come back with the Celtics there's six or seven teams I would be playing 25, 30 minutes a night for this year, easily," said Cassell. "But I'm 39 years old, man. I've accomplished a whole lot. I've accomplished so much with my body that people never gave me credit for in my career. All this I'm doing right now is fine tuning myself and keeping myself ready for when I am called on."