American guard Norris Cole..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Maccabi Tel Aviv added the latest, and possibly most important piece, to its roster on Tuesday, completing its biggest signing of the off-season, at least by name, by bringing in two-time NBA champion Norris Cole.
The 28-year-old won two NBA titles with the Miami Heat in his first two seasons in the league and has played a total of 360 NBA games over the past six seasons.
Cole began last season with Shandong of the Chinese league before joining Oklahoma City of the NBA for 13 games. He has career averages of 7.0 points, 2.7 assists and 2.0 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game.
“Norris is an excellent player and he also has a great personality,” said Maccabi coach Neven Spahija. “He can play and contribute in both guards positions. He played a significant part in Miami’s two championships and we are very excited that he is joining the Maccabi family.”
One of the people who helped convince Cole to join Maccabi was his good friend Daequan Cook. The two were teammates at Dunbar High School in Dayton, Ohio, and also faced each other in the 2012 NBA Finals, when Cook played for Oklahoma. Cook joined Ironi Ness Ziona of the BSL last week and persuaded Cole to join him in Israel.
Cole is the 10th player Maccabi has signed this summer and the yellow-and-blue is close to completing its roster.
Its backcourt looks to be all set with Cole being joined by last season’s BSL MVP, American-Israeli John DiBartolomeo, new foreign recruits Pierre Jackson, Michael Roll and DeAndre Kane and Israeli teenager Yovel Zoosman.
Roll will play as a forward, where Maccabi has also added Australian Jonah Bolden, American Deshaun Thomas, American-Israeli Jake Cohen and rising Israeli star Karam Mashour. Maccabi is still looking for another big man, with American-Israeli Alex Tyus and young Israeli Itay Segev leaving Spahija short on options under the baskets.
Segev is the only player who will continue from last season, with Spahija desperate to start with a clean slate after the team’s recent dejecting campaigns.
The Croatian had no qualms about breaking up the roster’s Israeli core, with Guy Pnini, Yogev Ohayon and Sylven Landesberg, who were all part of the squad that won the Euroleague title in 2014, as well as Gal Mekel, all being told their services are no longer required.
After eight years at Maccabi, Pnini signed a two-year deal with Hapoel Holon, while Ohayon left for Hapoel Jerusalem where he played before joining the yellow-and-blue in 2011.
Mekel and Landesberg both moved to Spain, with the former signing with Gran Canaria and the latter joining Estudiantes.