Israeli star Casspi to join Howard on NBA's Rockets

After 2 disappointing seasons with Cleveland, forward signs 2-year deal to play with star-studded roster in Houston.

July 8, 2013 00:03
2 minute read.
Omri Casspi

Omri Casspi 370. (photo credit: Israel Basketball Association)


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It may have taken six months longer than he had hoped, but Omri Casspi eventually found his way to the Houston Rockets.

Houston General Manager Daryl Morey has kept a close eye on Casspi for a while and was hoping to trade for the Israeli forward in January. The Cleveland Cavaliers turned down Morey’s offers, but the Cavs chose not to renew Casspi’s contract at the end of the season, opening the door for Houston.

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Despite averaging careerlows of 4.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in the mere 43 games in which he took part last season, Morey never lost interest in Casspi and the Rockets moved quickly to reach an agreement with the 25-year-old Israeli after landing their top free agent target, allstar Dwight Howard, on Friday.

Casspi and Houston came to terms on a two-year deal, which will become official after the NBA’s annual moratorium on signings and trades is lifted on July 10, with the Rockets having the option to cut the forward after 2013/14.

Casspi, who first heard of the deal via Twitter while walking in the streets of New York, has been craving for an opportunity to play for a potential contender and he will finally get a chance to do so in Houston after four years with two of the league’s worst teams, the Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The addition of Howard to a roster which already includes all-star James Harden, as well as Jeremy Lin and up-andcoming forward Chandler Parsons, should mean Casspi will finally get to experience the NBA playoffs.

As things currently stand, Casspi will fight for minutes off the bench as Parsons’ substitute, although he could also play as a power forward should Rockets coach Kevin McHale decide to surround Howard with four players who can score from distance.

Casspi’s accuracy from beyond the arc will have a crucial impact on his chances of succeeding in Texas, with Houston attempting the most three-pointers in the league last season.

There are likely to still be more changes to the Houston roster, with center Omer Asik reportedly having no interest in backing up Howard. Asik will be a much-sought after commodity on the trading block after a breakthrough season and the Rockets will likely use the Turk to acquire a power forward.

Meanwhile, Gal Mekel’s hopes of receiving significant playing time in his first season with the Dallas Mavericks could prove to be more difficult than he thought after the Mavs added two more players in his position over the weekend.

Dallas handed Jose Calderon a four-year deal believed to be worth $28 million before giving Devin Harris, who may well play many minutes as a shooting guard, a three-year contract.

The Mavs also recently acquired point guard Shane Larkin, who was selected by Atlanta with the 18th pick in this summer’s NBA draft, leaving Mekel in an awkward situation as he embarks on his NBA career.

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