Those familiar with Omri Casspi’s career could not have been too surprised when
the 22-year-old Israeli forward came out with a bitter column concerning his
lack of playing time for the Sacramento Kings this season.
work on their game as hard as Casspi does, and his devotion to improving every
aspect of his play is the main reason why he has achieved so much more than
anyone had predicted, including becoming the first Israeli to play in the
However, as dedicated as he is, he is even more impatient, and he
may soon discover that in the NBA he can’t get away with the same things he
managed to in Israel.
Throughout the early years of Casspi’s career, his
father Shimon scathingly attacked Maccabi Tel Aviv on numerous occasions,
claiming that his son was not being given the credit he deserved.
made sure to keep a low profile, but while he didn’t speak out against Maccabi
himself, he never did anything to indicate that he didn’t agree with his
At the end of the 2007/08 season, Casspi claimed that
he was a free agent since he wasn’t among the top eight in minutes played at
Maccabi, as required by a unique clause in his contract, which Tel Aviv had
never given to a player before, and haven't since.
Casspi ended up playing for
Maccabi in the 2008/09 campaign before realizing his dream of being selected in
the first round of the NBA draft.
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But while he has upgraded his game
beyond recognition during his time in the US, his conduct has remained as
immature as ever.
After starting 19 games in a row, Casspi has completely
fallen out of favor with capricious Kings coach Paul Westphal in recent weeks,
resulting in Monday’s column published on Israeli sports website ONE.
it, he effectively demanded to be allowed to move to another franchise despite
being under contract with the team through next season, with Sacramento also
holding a team option on him for the 2012/13 season.
“It’s not easy for
me to sit on the bench, which has happened to me quite a bit in Sacramento’s
last few games,” Casspi wrote. “I’m a player who lives the game, and as soon as
you take away the thing I love the most in the world – playing basketball – it
is hard for me.”
In four of Sacramento’s seven games prior to Tuesday
night’s encounter with the Houston Rockets, Casspi didn’t see a single second of
action, playing a mere total of 27 minutes.
“The situation in Sacramento
is not like it used to be in the past.
Coach Paul Westphal is
experimenting and trying different things and I’m certainly not in his plans,”
Casspi said. “We have six more games until the end of the season, and although I
won’t say that I’m counting the seconds, it is clear to me that I will have to
make some decisions at the end of the year.”
After an impressive rookie
season in which Casspi started in 40 games, averaging 10.3 points and 4.5
rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game, the Israeli expected to make further progress
However, if anything, he has gone backwards.
69 games this season, Casspi is averaging 8.8 points and 4.4 rebounds in 24.5
minutes per game, but in the past nine contests, he has only averaged 6.4
minutes, not playing in four of them due to Westphal’s decision.
that there are many teams, including some playoff teams, that want me ahead of
next season,” Casspi wrote. “I hope to find myself in a team that appreciates me
as a player and a person, a team that plays like a team.”
Casspi went on
to write that he loves everyone in Sacramento (apart from the coach) and still
doesn’t know if he will definitely not be continuing with the Kings next
He also admitted that it would be “egotistical” to say that he
wants to leave the team that gave him his first chance in the NBA, before
writing that “there are other teams which suit me better and since I have an
excellent relationship with the players and the staff, I hope that they
appreciate me enough to let me leave for a place where I can play
Just last week, Westphal praised Casspi for handling the
situation professionally, and the Israeli said that as a player in the NBA you
have to make sure to “be the professional you need to be and be ready when it’s
time to go out and play.”
But this week, Casspi reverted back to his old
ways and gave the NBA a peek of what Israeli basketball fans have long
He may well live to regret it.
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