Omri Casspi didn’t appear in a Sacramento Kings game for just the third
time this season on Sunday, with coach Paul Westphal choosing to rest
the Israeli rookie, for the first time since December 8.
Casspi has exceeded all expectations in his first season in the NBA,
averaging 11.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per game while cementing his
place as one of the best rookies in the league.
However, in his past seven games he has averaged just 6.5 points, while shooting only 38 percent (19 of 50) from the field.
“I think that it’s been pretty evident, not only in the games, but in
our practices as well that Omri is really winding down his battery, so
we’re trying to help him recharge it a little bit, just give him some
rest,” Westphal said after leaving Casspi out of Sacramento’s 108-102
defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We’re very, very high on Omri and I think that he’s a big part of our
future. I do think that it’s going to be important for him in this
offseason to pick up probably 10 pounds and maybe a little bit more and
really work on his stamina. He’s never been through anything like this
before and I think you can see it, that he doesn’t quite have the motor
that he had earlier.”
Casspi and Westphal had a brief-but-heated exchange in January, with
the forward fuming after being taken out of a game. However, the coach
said that Casspi took his latest decision well.
“He was respectful,” Westphal said. “He didn’t try very hard to talk me
out of it. I think he probably knows that he needs some rest, but he
wasn’t jumping up and down, either.”