(photo credit: REUTERS)
Despite the heartbreaking fashion in which his season ended, Omri Casspi wants to remain in the NBA and has no plans to return to Europe or Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Casspi’s dream of winning an NBA title with the Golden State Warriors was shattered on Sunday when he was waived by the reigning champions, one week before the start of the playoffs.
He will remain the player with more regular season games (552) than any other active player without seeing playoff action after being cut to clear a roster spot for Quinn Cook.
The 29-year-old Israeli failed to shake an ankle injury and rarely featured for the team over the past two months. Casspi has an inflammation as well as a bone bruise on the side of his right foot that has kept him out of action since March 16 and is still preventing him from running or jumping. He was listed as day-to-day by the Warriors, but with the team having until Tuesday to finalize its playoff roster and Cook impressing over recent weeks, Casspi found himself the odd man out.
Casspi, who averaged 5.7 points on 58 percent shooting in 14 minutes through 53 games, will soon be arriving in Israel to spend time with his family before returning to Los Angeles to continue rehabilitating and training during the offseason.
In his first comments since being cut, Casspi told Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee that he has every intention of being back for a 10th season in the NBA in 2018/19.
“No, I want to stay in the NBA,” he said on Sunday night. “I learned so much this year with the Warriors. That’s what makes this so hard.
“That is an amazing organization, and Steve, the way he handles things, the good times and the adversity, is really impressive. He told me he loves what I bring, too, and I could tell it was hard for him to tell me.
“When we met with [Warriors GM] Bob [Myers] last night, Steve kept looking down. I told him, ‘I love you guys. I understand.’ I just feel if I could have ever gotten healthy, I’d be on the playoff roster. But what are you going to do? This is a hard business sometimes.”
Before Sunday evening’s game against the Suns, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr detailed the reasoning behind the team’s decision to waive Casspi.
“It actually wasn’t a difficult decision because he was injured,” Kerr said of Casspi, who missed his final 11 games with Golden State with a sprained right ankle. “But it was difficult to go ahead and go through with it because he’s been with us all season long. We love Omri and what he brought to the team.
“It was difficult to sit with him and tell him we were going to do this, but it was the only decision we could make under the circumstances. We had to release somebody for Quinn [Cook] to play in the playoffs, and we couldn’t release someone else. Everyone else was healthy or under contract or under team control next year… This was the decision we had to come to.”
Casspi will yet again find himself searching for a new team this summer, with 2016/17 also ending in disappointment after playing a mere total of 36 games for Sacramento, New Orleans and Minnesota, twice sitting out significant time through injury.
“It wasn’t fun,” Kerr said of telling Casspi he was being waived.
“The main thing was he was a pro, a great teammate, and he handled everything beautifully last night. It was awful, but you have to do what you have to do.”