Omri Casspi could be on his way back to the Sacramento Kings after being waived by the New Orleans Pelicans as expected on Wednesday, just two weeks after he was traded to the team from the Houston Rockets.
The 26-year-old forward was acquired in a three-team trade earlier this month, with Casspi having a year remaining on his non-guaranteed contract valued at just more than $1 million.
The Pelicans had the option to waive him by August 1, but didn’t keep the Israeli waiting and already released him on Wednesday.
The Kings are believed to be interested in claiming Casspi off the waiver wire and not taking the risk of waiting until he becomes a free agent.
If multiple teams submit claims, he’ll go to the one with the worst record last season. The Kings rank seventh in that pecking order – behind Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Orlando, Utah, Boston and Los Angeles.
Casspi, who played for the Kings in his first two seasons in the NBA before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, sounds like he is interested in returning to Sacramento.
“My agent [Dan Fegan] is talking with a number of teams,” he told Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee, “and the Kings are one of them. Couldn’t they use a stretch forward who can hit a three and loves to run? I think I could help, and it would be fun to play with Rudy [Gay], DeMarcus [Cousins], J.T. I still have a lot of friends there.
I would love to come back and fulfill my path. But now I have to concentrate on the national team, and maybe, I can get some of this pressure off my chest.”
Casspi had 10 points and eight rebounds in Israel’s 67-57 victory over Russia B in Moscow on Thursday in the national team’s first warm-up game of the summer ahead of next month’s EuroBasket qualifiers.
“We saw a lot of rust, but this was our first game against a tough team,” said new coach Erez Edelstein after his first game at the helm of the blue-and-white.
The four-team tournament was scheduled to take place in Rishon Lezion before being moved to Moscow due to the security situation in Israel.
Israel faces Russia A on Friday before playing the Czech Republic in its final game of the mini-tournament on Saturday.
Israel hosts Montenegro in Rishon Lezion on August 10 in the first of six EuroBasket qualifiers, with all six games to be played over an 18-day span.
Gal Mekel led all Israel scorers with 11 points on Thursday.
“It is important we won even though we were rusty,” said Mekel. “I only joined the team three days ago and so did Omri so I’m sure we will improve with time.”
Mekel’s hopes of receiving more playing time at the Dallas Mavericks next season have suffered a blow, with the Mavs set to add point guard Jameer Nelson to their roster.
Devin Harris is currently projected to start for Dallas at the point guard position, with Nelson and Raymond Felton likely to be his main backups, leaving Mekel with a very limited role.
In other basketball news, Maccabi Tel Aviv announced the signing of Jeremy Pargo to a two-year contract on Thursday. The 28-yearold American guard returns to the yellow-and-blue three years after leaving the club. Pargo led Maccabi to the Euroleague final in the 2010/11 season, but left the club in acrimonious fashion for the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the summer of 2012, but was waived midway through the season and went on to join Philadelphia. Pargo signed a lucrative two-year contract worth an estimated $10 million with CSKA Moscow last year, but averaged just 5.0 points in a mere 15.4 minutes per game in the Euroleague.
CSKA agreed to buy-out the second year of his contract for a reported $650,000 on Thursday and shortly afterwards Pargo signed a deal with Maccabi which will earn him around $2 million over two seasons.