When the Sacramento Kings re-acquired swingman John Salmons, Omri Casspi had a feeling his days could be numbered. When he got the call that his NBA career would continue on in Cleveland, the 6-foot-9-inch small forward was understandably greeted with a feeling of excitement.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Casspi said roughly one hour after hearing the news of his trade. “I get to start a new wave in my basketball career. Cleveland is a wonderful city with great fans. It’s a great opportunity.”
Casspi was already relegated to a reserve role in the wake of Sacramento’s addition of shooting guard Marcus Thornton last season. Add in Donte Green, Francisco Garcia and the recently added Salmons, and things were understandably getting cumbersome for the 23-year-old. In turn, Casspi saw a drop in his minutes per game as well as his statistics overall; a disappointment compared to a rookie season where he averaged 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 three-pointers per-36 minutes.
“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 told an Israeli website back in April. Fast forward almost three months and his wishes were granted as he is a near certainty to step in and start at small forward for the Cavaliers.
Described as a tough and nasty player by Cavaliers GM Chris Grant, Casspi prefers to classify himself as a player who flourishes in a team-centric atmosphere. While he has yet to talk to head coach Byron Scott, Casspi is well aware of the style offense Scott prefers to one and feels he could flourish given the ball movement and overall motion that is involved.
Despite playing basketball several thousand miles from Cleveland over the past two seasons, Casspi was made aware of the Cavaliers’ culture and fan base thanks to Anthony Parker. The two men played together for Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2005-06 where the team would be runners-up in the Euroleague Championship but win the Israeli Championship.
In what will be his third season in the NBA, Casspi is not only excited to be a part of a new team and have a new-found opportunity, but he is also looking to improve on his already solid game. He has already set a goal of an 85 percent free throw mark – he’s a career 67 percent shooter from the charity stripe. Despite the Kings’ season ending in April, Casspi has been working for the last month and a half and will do so through the European Championship and his work with the Israeli national team.
“This is a very important summer for me,” Casspi stated. “It’s a great opportunity to start a new wave and be the best teammate I can be.
“I can’t wait to start.”