Forward Omri Casspi has cleared waivers and hit free agency, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The news is a surprise, since the Kings had reportedly planned to submit a claim. The Pelicans released Casspi on Wednesday, as they had seemed likely to do after acquiring him from the Rockets in the Omer Asik trade.
Agent Dan Fegan had spoken with the Kings, among several other teams, about Casspi with New Orleans poised to let him go, as Casspi told Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee earlier this week. Casspi also expressed interest in returning to Sacramento, where he played his first two NBA seasons, which doubled as his most productive. The Kings and any other team are free to sign Casspi now that he’s hit the open market, but Sacramento might wind up paying a greater premium than the minimum salary he would have made if the Kings had claimed him off waivers.
The Kings have their $2.077MM biannual exception available if necessary to sign Casspi, who was a regular part of Houston’s rotation this past season. There are already 11 teams limited to doling out just the minimum salary to free agents, so that could work to Sacramento’s advantage if the team indeed still envisions a reunion with the 26-year-old native of Israel.
Sacramento is nonetheless about $1MM beneath the tax threshold, and if Casspi consents to sign a one-year deal for the minimum salary, the Kings will only be on the hook for the two-year veteran’s portion of it, with the league picking up the tab for the rest. That would allow the team to stay beneath the tax line and retain Quincy Acy‘s non-guaranteed contract, as Stein points out (on Twitter). The Kings would have been on the hook for his full five-year veteran’s minimum had they claimed his contract off waivers, since that deal had covered two years instead of one.