Omri Casspi thought he had finally found a home in Houston.
The 26-year-old Israeli forward was over the moon after signing a two-year deal with the Rockets last summer, at last joining a playoff side after spending the first four years of his NBA career at the struggling Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers.
However, Casspi didn’t even play a single minute in Houston’s first-round playoff defeat to the Portland Trail Blazers last season and on Monday he was unexpectedly traded to the New Orleans Pelicans, joining his third team in as many years.
The trade did not only catch Casspi by surprise, with Houston coach Kevin McHale admitting he also knew little about it.
“I didn’t even know,” he said. “I love Omri, he’s a great kid.”
New Orleans also received Turkish center Omer Asik and $1.5 million in the three-team trade, which also involved the Washington Wizards.
The Pelicans sent forward Alonzo Gee, shooting guard Scotty Hopson and their 2015 protected first-round pick to the Rockets, while Melvin Ely’s $2.2 million contract will be sent to Washington.
The Rockets acquired small forward Trevor Ariza in a signand- trade deal from the Wizards in exchange for an $8.5 million trade exception.
Ariza, a free agent, had agreed to terms on a four-year, $32 million contract to join the Rockets before the sign-andtrade was worked out.
After trading guard Jeremy Lin to the Los Angeles Lakers last week, the Rockets also decided over the weekend not to match the Mavericks’ three-year, $46 million offer sheet for Chandler Parsons, which means the versatile forward will join Dallas and give the Rockets a totally new composition.
Casspi averaged 6.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game last season, but dropped completely out of Houston’s rotation in the playoffs.
Despite the disappointment of being traded, Casspi should receive an opportunity to shine in New Orleans, which has a glaring hole at small forward.
Casspi joins one of the NBA’s best young rosters led by power forward Anthony Davis. The All- Star will form a formidable frontcourt with the newly acquired Asik, while Ryan Anderson provides fire-power from distance.
The Pelicans also have talented guards in Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon, with Casspi to team-up once more with Tyreke Evans after the two spent two seasons together in Sacramento.
New Orleans, coached by Monty Williams since 2010, ended last season with a 34-48 record and failed to reach the playoffs.
After spending recent weeks in the US, Casspi is set to rejoin the Israel national team in training this week ahead of next month’s EuroBasket qualifiers.
Israel faces Montenegro, Bulgaria and Netherlands in Group B, with all six qualifiers to be played between August 10-27.
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