It’s official: Omri Casspi returns to Maccabi Tel Aviv

Casspi, who stands 2.06 meters (6-foot-8) will wear the No. 7 jersey for the yellow-and-blue and the deal will pay him $950,000 a season.

By JERUSALEM POST SPORTS STAFF
August 13, 2019 12:20
3 minute read.
AFTER 10 years in the NBA, Israeli forward Omri Casspi returned to his roots yesterday, signing a th

AFTER 10 years in the NBA, Israeli forward Omri Casspi returned to his roots yesterday, signing a three-year deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he began his professional basketball career.. (photo credit: MACCABI TEL AVIV/COURTESY)

After months of speculation and reports, Maccabi Tel Aviv officially signed Omri Casspi to a three-year contract on Tuesday, finalizing the 31-year-old Israeli forward’s return to the club after 10 seasons in the NBA.

“I am very excited, in truth much more than I thought I would be,” said Casspi after the signing. “I am coming home to Maccabi Tel Aviv, back to where I grew up and learned how to play basketball. I was 13 years old when I first arrived here and I am proud and excited to once again be wearing the Maccabi jersey with the Magen David on its back. This is a great privilege. This is where I was taught how to win and what it means to have ambition and strive for victory at every opportunity. Maccabi today signed not only a player, but a true fan of the club."

Casspi, who stands 2.06 meters (6-foot-8) will wear the No. 7 jersey for the yellow-and-blue and the deal will pay him $950,000 a season. He will also named Maccabi’s captain and is set be given a management role with the team when he hangs up his sneakers

Engaged in an arms’ race with other European basketball powerhouses, the yellow-and-blue was looking to make a big signing this offseason with the departure of Alex Tyus, and the club worked hard to facilitate Casspi’s return to the team, after he departed for the NBA in 2009 to become the first Israeli to play in the world’s premier basketball league.

"Omri Casspi is returning home to Maccabi," said yellow-and-blue head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos. "I am very pleased that we signed the best Israeli player in the world. Omri will add a tremendous amount and help us achieve our goals. He is very excited to return and Maccabi brings back the best Israeli player – that is a statement-making move."

Casspi’s priority was to find an NBA deal after becoming a free agent when the Memphis Grizzlies waived him in February. However, by this point pretty much all of the NBA’s 30 teams already completed their offseason shake-ups and signings, and with Casspi maintaining that he preferred going to team with a chance to make the playoffs, there were precious few such NBA clubs that could offer him a minimum contract.

Casspi, who has been the captain of Israel’s national team since 2015, played for Maccabi from 2005 to 2009 (minus the 2006/07 campaign when he was loaned to Hapoel Gilboa/Galil) before being drafted 23rd overall by the Sacramento Kings to begin his NBA career. He has averaged 7.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists in 20.3 minutes over 588 NBA games spanning 10 years with the Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and the Grizzlies.

He was a member of the Warriors’ 2017/18 title-winning team and though he was injured throughout the playoffs, he still received a championship ring from the club.

During his time at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Casspi won two league championships and one State Cup, capturing the sixth man of the year award in the 2007/08 season and being named in the all-BSL first-team in 2008/09. He returns to Maccabi as the husband of Shani and a father of two girls, the youngest who was born last July.

Even with his knee injury history, Casspi should still provide good numbers and leadership for Maccabi, especially for a team that is looking to improve its three-point shooting. He has been close to a career 37-percent shooter from long-range in the NBA, where the three-point distance is almost two feet longer than in Israel and Europe. His defense may have regressed a little and he may have lost a step in terms of speed, but with the right system Casspi can still be a primary contributor for the yellow-and-blue in both Israel and the Euroleague.


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