Israeli representative to the NBA sent to Cleveland for J.J. Hickson.
By ALLON SINAI
Omri Casspi was granted his wish on Thursday night, being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers from the Sacramento Kings.The Kings will receive forward/ center J.J Hickson while also trading a protected first-round pick in the 2012 NBA draft along with Casspi, with the deal being completed hours before the collective bargaining agreement was set to expire, with all indications that the NBA will lock out its players beginning at 12:01 a.m. Friday.The 23-year-old small forward, who made history by becoming the first Israeli to play in the NBA after being taken 23rd overall in the 2009 draft, had voiced his frustrations with not being given enough playing time at the end of last season and is delighted to be making a fresh start in Cleveland.“I want to thank the organization – Sacramento Kings for the great opportunity to play in NBA,” Casspi tweeted late Thursday. “It been an amazing two years and I have memories that I’ll never forget.Kings fans always been great to me and I’m so grateful for the amazing two years.“Starting a new path in my journey and I’m so excited to be a Cavalier. I’m ready for the challenge and can’t wait to get to know my teammates and my new home. Great things are ahead, Cavs Fans!!!” After exceeding all expectations in his rookie season, averaging 10.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 77 games, starting in 31 of them, Casspi saw his production drop in 2010/11, receiving fewer and fewer opportunities as the season progressed.The Israeli suffered a drop in almost all of his numbers, averaging 8.6 points and 4.3 rebounds, playing in 71 games, starting in 27.AdvertisementCasspi completely fell out of favor with coach Paul Westphal as the season drew to a close, scoring a total of 10 points in less than 38 minutes during the final 13 games of the campaign.Casspi let his feelings of discontent be known by attacking the Kings in a column, writing among other things that he hopes to find himself in a team “that appreciates me as a player and a person, a team that plays like a team.”He should get plenty of chances to prove his worth in Cleveland, which is desperate to fill a void at the small forward position.The Cavaliers had the second worst record in the NBA last season at 19-63, losing a record 26 games in a row at one stage.“This is another step in our on-going process to shape and position our team and roster for future growth and a platform for sustained success,” said Cavaliers GM Chris Grant.“We’re excited to add a young, talented, toughminded player like Omri, that we feel is a good fit for our team and can help improve our perimeter group, while also being able to obtain another important asset with the additional first round draft pick.”