Israel national team and Minnesota Timberwolves forward Omri Casspi took part in Basketball Without Borders Europe as a player in 2005 and will do so as a guide this year, with the camp to be held at The Wingate Institute in Netanya during August, the first time the event will take place in Israel..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Ever since he became the first Israeli in the NBA eight years ago, Omri Casspi has spoken about his wish to play for a winning team.
He has since played for five different franchises, but success on a team-level eluded him time and again. It has done so to such an extent that there is no other player in the league who has made as many regular season appearances without playing in the playoffs. In fact, Casspi is ranked seventh all-time in that uncomplimentary list with 499 games to his name.
That is about to change in the coming season, with the 29-year-old forward set to join NBA champion Golden State.
Casspi has agreed to a one-year deal with the Warriors, and will sign for the veteran’s minimum of $2.1 million. Casspi has averaged 8.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in his career over stops with Sacramento, Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans and Minnesota. last season, over stints with the Kings, Pelicans and Timberwolves, he averaged 5.2 points on 47 percent shooting in 17.9 minutes per game.
He will join a star-studded roster considered to be one of the best of all-time, including Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
The Warriors have 12 players in all currently on their roster, with Casspi and the aforementioned foursome being joined by Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, David West, Patrick McCaw, Damian Jones, Kevin Looney and rookie Jordan Bell. Zaza Pachulia, Ian Clark, JaVale McGee, Matt Barnes and James Michael Mcadoo, who were part of the roster that beat Cleveland 4-1 in last season’s Finals, are still free agents.
Pachulia is intent on sticking with Golden State, even if that means leaving money on the table for the second straight year. Odds are that Clark and McGee, both of whom figure to warrant far more than a minimum deal, will parlay productive seasons into sizable offers from other clubs.
The addition of Casspi should help replace Clark, who is the likeliest of the Warriors’ remaining free agents to sign elsewhere.
According to Casspi’s father Shimon, Golden State was the first team to call Omri, exactly one minute into Saturday, July 1, when teams were officially allowed to begin negotiations with players. Shimon said his son had one other offer he was considering, but ultimately couldn’t resist the lure of the Warriors.
Casspi is coming off arguably the most frustrating season of his career. he started it in Sacramento, where he was out of favor with coach Dave Joerger before being traded to New Orleans in February.
“I’m happy to have received this amazing opportunity,” Casspi said in a short statement. “This is a childhood dream that has come true, to play for such a respected team, alongside such great players. I hope to start training soon and begin the hard work.”
Casspi was waived by the Pelicans just six days after joining the franchise and two days after breaking his right thumb during his debut. after three weeks without a team, Casspi was picked up by Minnesota and played for the Wolves in 13 games.
The news of Casspi’s addition received a largely positive reaction, with Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle writing that Casspi “will connect beautifully with the Warriors and their fans.”
“Examining his career statistics, you’re hardly blown away. he’s been a bit of a vagabond,” Jenkins added. “But he can shoot, his unrelenting energy is infectious, and as a man in search of contentment in America, he just might have landed, finally, in the right place.”
Jenkins and others also reminisced about Casspi’s career night against the Warriors. The career-high 36 points and shooting duel with Curry in Oakland on December 28, 2015 was remarkable by any measure. Casspi hit 13-of-18 field goal attempts, including 9-of-12 from three-point range, while also taking six rebounds in 35 minutes on court. The most memorable part of Casspi’s night came in the final three minutes and 15 seconds of the first half when he traded three-pointers with Curry to the amazement of everyone watching.
Casspi scored four triples to Curry’s five, with the two combining for 29 of the game’s 31 points during that stretch. It wasn’t enough to help Sacramento avoid a 122-103 defeat against Golden State.
Casspi will soon be part of the Warriors, taking a pay cut from the previous two seasons in which he earned $6 million for a chance at a championship and the privilege of being part of an historic team.TNS contributed to this report.