Omri Casspi

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Gibson, Westbrook

The decision to not move point guard Ricky Rubio at the trade deadline has proved to be a smart one, Michael Rand of the Star Tribune writes. Since February the Timberwolves veteran has demonstrated an elite ability to contribute across the board.

In March, the guard historically criticized for his inability to shoot the ball, has shot .472 from the field while averaging 17.8 points and 10.4 assists per game. What’s more, his true shooting percentage for the playoff hopeful Timberwolves is an elite .602.

As early as last summer it appeared as though Rubio would be on his way out the door. When the Timberwolves drafted Kris Dunn last June, it seemed inevitable. Lately, however, Rubio’s confidence has forced other teams to honor his jump shot.

  • Though he’s logged time with both the Kings and Timberwolves this season, Omri Casspi says the clubs are considerably far apart in terms of their respective rebuilds, Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune writes. “The Timberwolves are well ahead in their rebuilding. They’re putting the right pieces in the right places. I think this team, whether I’m here or not next year, should win 50-plus games. Sacramento, now is starting to rebuild. It will take time,” Casspi said.
  • Consider the Trail Blazers an ideal hypothetical trade destination for Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, says Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. The veteran has been the subject of rumors for the majority of the season.
  • Veteran forward Taj Gibson returned to the lineup for the Thunder but head coach Billy Donovan thought he lacked a certain something, Erik Horne of the Oklahoman writes. The big man didn’t play with “the same kind of pop”, Donovan told Horne, so his second-half minutes were reduced.
  • Carelessness with the ball could be hurting Russell Westbrook‘s MVP chances, Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman writes. The Thunder guard has been turning the ball over more often of late, forcing the issue on passes.

Wolves Sign Omri Casspi

March 20: The Wolves officially announced in a press release on Twitter that they’ve signed Casspi, though the exact terms have not yet been made available.

March 19: The Timberwolves are closing in on a deal with Omri Casspi, according to Marc Stein of ESPN (Twitter link). Casspi had been cleared to resume basketball activities last week, after suffering a right thumb injury.

Stein shed further light on the deal, reporting Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau met face-to-face with Casspi over dinner this weekend in New Orleans (article link). According to Stein, the Clippers, Celtics, and Grizzlies also showed interest in Casspi.

The Wolves have a need for Casspi, having lost Nemanja Bjelica for the season with a left foot injury. Like Bjelica, Casspi is known as a long-distance shooting specialist, shooting 36.9% on 3-pointers over the course of his career. While Casspi is playoff-eligible- having been released prior to the March 1 deadline- the Wolves face long odds to make the postseason. Thibodeau’s squad is 28-40, receiving 3% odds of making the playoffs according to Five Thirty Eight.

Casspi’s deal is expected to be finalized Monday, Stein reports.

Pacific Notes: Walton, Buss, Crawford

When Luke Walton shifted from his role as an assistant coach with the Warriors to head coach of the Lakers, an adjustment period was expected. ESPN’s Baxter Holmes recently profiled the transition that Walton has undergone in California, adjusting not only to a new routine and staff but an entirely new culture.

Really, it shifts your entire life because your daily routine is so much different from the stress and the grind and the everything,” Walton told him as the Lakers look back on a 20-49 record, “I do my best to stay in the right frame of mind.”

Walton adds that there have been plenty of sleepless nights but remains optimistic about the young Lakers roster and about coaching in general.

The job itself is still the same,” he says now amid the ongoing Lakers rebuild. “It’s rewarding. It’s exciting. Now we’re competing for different things there and here, but the competition level is right there from the daily practices to the games.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • In an effort to open up communication across all levels of the organization Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and new general manager Rob Pelinka have been meeting with players at practice. “It’s good for us being able to talk to them and pick their brains as well and having that open-door presence,” Jordan Clarkson told Mark Media of the Los Angeles Daily News.
  • Current franchise president Jeanie Buss has asked her brothers for permanent assurances that they’ll vote for her to remain the controlling owner of the Lakers, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPN, as well as to remain on the board of directors.
  • Veteran guard Jamal Crawford recently spoke with Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype about the trade rumors that popped up with his name in them prior to the trade deadline. “It was a little bit frustrating. You hate to hear it, and this time was a little bit different since I had just re-signed [with the Clippers on a three-year contract] this past summer. […] For me, I’m just glad it’s over with and we’re just moving forward.
  • The Warriors were left with a lack of depth after signing Kevin Durant in the offseason and Marcus Thompson II of the Mercury News speculates that Omri Casspi, Mario Chalmers and Jimmer Fredette could be options to help bolster the roster as the playoffs near. That, of course, begs the question of who the team would need to cut if they made an addition.

Western Notes: Clippers, Cousins, Harden, Chandler

Clippers coach and team president Doc Rivers indicated there’s a 50-50 chance he’ll bring in another player in the near future, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register reports. The player could come from the D League or from the buyout market, Oram continues, and would require the club to waive someone from the current 15-man roster. Forward Omri Casspi, who was bought out by the Pelicans, isn’t a likely target despite a recent report that the Clippers had an interest in him, Oram adds.“We’re looking at everything,” Rivers told Oram.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • The NBA rescinded the latest technical assessed to Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins, sources told ESPN.com’s Justin Verrier. The technical, which he was given during a loss to Miami on Wednesday, would have been his 19th this season. He will receive his third one-game suspension this season from the league if he reaches the 20-technical mark.
  • Rockets guard James Harden said he will hire Diana Day as his agent, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Day previously handled marketing and public relations for his former agent, Rob Pelinka. Day must first receive certification from the players association, Feigen adds. Pelinka relinquished his duties as an agent to become the Lakers’ GM.
  • Veteran center Tyson Chandler could have been dealt to a contender prior to the trade deadline but opted to stay with the Suns, according to Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic. Chandler told team executives in a meeting prior to a deadline he was content to take a reduced role in Phoenix and aid in the development of the team’s younger players. “I didn’t want to go nowhere,” Chandler told Haller. “I wanted to be with these dudes and finish it out.”
  • Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy believes the Jazz’s signing of veteran swingman Joe Johnson was one of the most underrated moves of the past offseason. Johnson, who inked a two-year, $22MM contract as a free agent, is averaging 8.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG and 1.7 APG while shooting over 40% from long range in 22.9 MPG. “I think they made a great acquisition with Joe Johnson,” Van Gundy said. “A lot of people thought Joe was really on the decline and he’s really bounced back.”

Casspi Cleared To Play, Talking With Contenders

Less than three weeks after breaking his right thumb, Omri Casspi has received medical clearance to “resume basketball activities,” tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

Casspi suffered the injury in his first game with the Pelicans after being traded from the Kings as part of the DeMarcus Cousins deal. New Orleans waived Casspi to open a roster spot rather than wait for him to heal. Casspi’s original prognosis put his recovery time at four to six weeks.

Now a free agent, Casspi has been contacted by several contending teams, according to Stein, who names the Clippers and Grizzlies among them (Twitter link). Memphis may need to find a replacement for Chandler Parsons, who could be shut down for the rest of the season with a partial meniscus tear in his left knee.

Casspi played just 22 games with Sacramento before the deal, averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per night. He missed more than a month in January and February with a strained plantaris tendon in his right calf.

Omri Casspi Drawing Interest From Playoff Teams

After being traded from Sacramento to New Orleans as part of last month’s DeMarcus Cousins blockbuster, Omri Casspi endured some bad luck, breaking his thumb in his first game with his new team. However, having been waived by the Pelicans, Casspi is now drawing interest from playoff teams and could make an impact down the stretch, reports ESPN’s Marc Stein (Twitter links).

League sources tell Stein that Casspi, who was initially ruled out for four to six weeks, is ahead of schedule in his recovery from his thumb injury, and may only be about a week from receiving medical clearance. Although Stein doesn’t specify which teams might be eyeing Casspi, he notes that “multiple” clubs are in pursuit.

Casspi wasn’t just a throw-in for New Orleans in the Cousins trade — if he had stayed healthy, he could have provided the Pelicans with some much-needed outside shooting. The club was somewhat short-handed in the backcourt after acquiring Cousins though, and needed to free up Casspi’s roster spot to create room for a healthy player.

Although his role in Sacramento had been dialed back significantly this season after he posted a career-high 11.8 PPG in 2015/16, Casspi continued to be an effective shooter for the Kings this season. After making more than 40% of his three-point attempts in each of the last two years, Casspi has a 39.4% success rate from three-point range this season.

No teams currently in playoff position have open roster spots, but the Cavaliers will soon free one up by waiving Andrew Bogut, and the Rockets’ 15th player – Troy Williams – is on a 10-day contract. Any other current playoff team would have to cut someone in order to add Casspi, who will be postseason-eligible.

Pelicans Waive Omri Casspi, Sign Reggie Williams

February 25:  The Pelicans have now signed Williams to a 10-day contract. The club formally announced the addition in a press release on their official website.

February 24: The Pelicans will waive Omri Casspi and use his roster spot to sign Reggie Williams, Shams Charania of The Vertical reports (Twitter link). Casspi, acquired from Sacramento alongside DeMarcus Cousins, suffered a broken thumb in his team debut on Thursday.

Justin Verrier of ESPN initially reported Casspi would miss 4-to-6 weeks with the injury (Twitter link). According to Marc Stein of ESPN, the Pelicans felt Casspi’s absence would leave them short-handed on the wing in midst of a playoff hunt. The decision to cut Casspi wasn’t an easy one, as GM Dell Demps resisted the temptation to flip Casspi leading up to the deadline (Twitter links).

If Casspi doesn’t play another game in 2016/17, he’ll have finished the year averaging 6.1 points through a career-low 23 games. As Bobby Marks of The Vertical points out, the Pelicans are only responsible for $906K of Casspi’s salary, unless he’s claimed on waivers (Twitter link).

The 30-year-old Williams appeared in five games with the Pelicans in December, recording 25 points in that span. A veteran of five NBA teams, Williams averaged 18.2 points this season with the D-League’s Oklahoma City Blue. A lifetime 36.6% 3-point shooter, Williams will supplant Casspi as a long distance threat off New Orleans’ bench.

Omri Casspi Breaks Thumb, Out 4-6 Weeks

FEBRUARY 24: The Pelicans have confirmed the diagnosis on Casspi, announcing today (via Twitter) that the veteran forward will be sidelined for four to six weeks as his thumb heals.

FEBRUARY 23: Omri Casspi broke his right thumb tonight in his first game with the Pelicans since Monday’s trade, tweets Justin Verrier of ESPN.com. Doctors are projecting that the injury will sideline him for four to six weeks (Twitter link).

Casspi was sent from Sacramento to New Orleans along with DeMarcus Cousins in a five-player deal. His injury capped an overall bad night for the Pelicans, who suffered a 30-point loss to Houston in front of a sold-out Smoothie King Center. Casspi played 23 minutes and scored 12 points before being hurt. New Orleans was counting on him to provide some wing depth after shipping Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway to the Kings.

Casspi is making $3MM this season in the final year of his contract, so he is a candidate to be waived or bought out if the Pelicans don’t want to wait for his return. New Orleans waived Lance Stephenson in a similar situation in November when the team felt like it needed a healthy player.

The Pelicans filled one final roster spot today when they signed Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract, but opened another when they waived Terrence Jones.

Kings Trade DeMarcus Cousins To Pelicans

FEBRUARY 20: The trade is official, according to press release issued by the Kings and Pelicans. Sacramento has waived Matt Barnes to clear room for the extra incoming player.DeMarcusCousins vertical

“It was time for a change and I decided this was the best direction for the organization,” Kings GM Vlade Divac said in a statement. “Winning begins with culture and character matters. With the upcoming draft class set to be one of the strongest in a decade, this trade will allow us to build the depth needed for a talented and developing roster moving forward. We thank DeMarcus for his contributions and wish him all the best in New Orleans. The fans in Sacramento are the best in the world and we are all committed to building a team that will continue to make Sacramento proud.”

For more notes, reactions, and details on the deal, check out our posts from earlier today, plus our initial Sunday report below.

FEBRUARY 19: After publicly vowing earlier this season that he wouldn’t be moved, the Kings have agreed to trade DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders tweets that the deal consists of Buddy Hield, Tyreke Evans, Langston Galloway, New Orleans’ 2017 first-round pick (top-three protected), and Philadelphia’s 2017 second-round pick going to Sacramento, with Cousins and Omri Casspi heading to New Orleans. David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link) initially reported that the Kings would also get a 2019 first-rounder, but he has since issued a correction, tweeting that New Orleans balked at the Kings’ request to include that pick.

Earlier this evening, news broke that the Kings and Pelicans had engaged in discussions about a possible Cousins deal. At the time, it was reported by Scotto that the standout center could potentially be shipped to New Orleans in exchange for a package involving Hield, a 2017 first-round pick and an additional first-round pick. Later, in an article published at The Vertical, Wojnarowski suggested that expiring contracts could also be involved.

Following the first report, Wojnarowski tweeted that Kings general manager Vlade Divac had formally presented what the front office believed to be the two best trade proposals to team owner Vivek Ranadive. Previously, despite concerns throughout the organization about Cousins’ temperament, Ranadive was intent on holding onto the franchise pillar, and Divac had publicly reiterated that stance.

For the Kings, it’s an abrupt about-face, and it’s fair to wonder if Divac’s public and private declarations that Cousins wouldn’t be moved will hurt his credibility with agents and players in the future, as Wojnarowski tweets.

Over the last several hours, other teams, including the Suns and Lakers, were linked to the Kings’ Cousins talks, though the discussions with New Orleans were viewed as the most serious. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter links), the Lakers balked at Sacramento’s asking price and opted against including Brandon Ingram in a package.

Ultimately, the Kings aren’t getting a massive haul in return for their All-NBA big man, though it’s worth noting that several pre-draft reports back in June indicated that the team was very high on Hield. Still, it’s surprising that the former Oklahoma sharpshooter and a draft pick that may not even end up in the lottery are the centerpieces of a Cousins deal. Howard Beck of Bleacher Report tweets there wasn’t much of a market for the All-Star big man, according to several executives.

The deal also isn’t necessarily great news for Cousins, who will now be ineligible to receive a Designated Veteran Extension this summer. The 26-year-old would have met the criteria for a new deal worth 35% of the cap if he remained in Sacramento, and there were indications in recent weeks that both sides were on board with the idea of getting something done. Now that he’s changing teams, Cousins will be eligible for a far more modest extension.

Cousins’ agent Jarinn Akana suggested earlier today that his client wasn’t likely to sign an extension this summer with any team that traded for him, as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported (Twitter links). However, that could have been a negotiating tactic — if teams were worried about their ability to re-sign Cousins, they may have been reluctant to trade for him, in which case he would’ve remained with the Kings and been eligible for a super-max deal. For what it’s worth, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN tweets that the Pelicans are confident that they can ultimately lock up Cousins to a new contract. If New Orleans can’t extend Cousins prior to free agency, he’ll hit the open market in 2018.

In recent weeks, the Pelicans had been linked to centers such as Jahlil Okafor and Brook Lopez as they dangled a first-round pick in an effort to find a frontcourt partner for Anthony Davis. The team had reportedly been offering its 2018 pick, having been reluctant to move its first-rounder in 2017, given this year’s strong draft class. However, it makes sense that New Orleans was willing to change course for a player of Cousins’ caliber.

With Cousins and Davis in the frontcourt, the Pelicans will feature two of the league’s very best big men. Cousins, who was named to the All-NBA second team last year, has arguably been even better in 2016/17, averaging a career-high 27.8 PPG to go along with 10.7 RPG and 4.9 APG. His presence on the Pelicans’ roster may have an impact on Jrue Holiday‘s decision in free agency this summer. Holiday is on an expiring deal, but Davis has been lobbying the veteran point guard to re-sign with New Orleans.

This move will also have draft-related ramifications for the Sixers and Bulls. Chicago had been in line to receive Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2017 if it fell outside of the top 10. With Cousins no longer on their roster though, the Kings seem likely to slip in the standings, which is bad news for the Bulls. Chicago will receive a 2017 second-rounder from the Kings if Sacramento’s first-rounder falls in the top 10.

As for the Sixers, they’ll have the option to swap first-round picks with Sacramento if the Kings retain their selection. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, Philadelphia currently has the league’s fifth-worst record, while the Kings rank 11th, but things are tight enough that those spots could flip quickly.

For the deal to become official, the Kings will have to remove at least one more player from their roster, via release or trade. The team is also considered likely to waive Galloway after acquiring him, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The third-year guard needed to be included in the swap for salary-matching purposes.

In other cap-related housekeeping notes, Evans’ deal includes a 15% trade kicker, which will add an extra $458K to his salary. The Pelicans will pay that trade bonus, though it will be charged to Sacramento’s cap. Each team will create a modest trade exception in the deal as well — the Kings’ TPE should be worth Casspi’s salary ($2.963MM), while the Pelicans’ TPE should be worth Hield’s salary ($3.517MM)

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Kings Notes: Cousins, McLemore, Casspi, Richardson

Kings GM Vlade Divac should be calling all interested parties to make the best possible deal for DeMarcus Cousins before the February 23rd deadline, writes Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee. Voisin argues that the franchise doesn’t have enough assets in place to build a contender around Cousins, who will become a free agent in the summer of 2018, and mentions the Celtics, Lakers, Cavaliers, Mavericks, Suns and Magic as possible destinations. Phoenix owns two first-round picks from Miami and has $13MM in available cap space, and GM Ryan McDonough has said he wants to acquire a star. Voisin believes the Kings should insist that Devin Booker be part of any deal with the Suns.

There’s more news out of Sacramento:

  • Injuries to Rudy Gay and Garrett Temple have given fourth-year shooting guard Ben McLemore another chance to prove himself, notes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. McLemore returned to the Kings’ starting lineup Friday after losing that position last month and put up a season-high 18 points. He is hoping to finish the season strong before heading into free agency this summer. “Once I knew I was going to get the starting spot, I knew I was prepared,” McLemore said. “But now I’ve just got to go out there and perform and not worry about making mistakes and stuff like that. I’ve been working real hard, and it showed out there on the floor [Friday].”
  • The Kings expect to be without forward Omri Casspi until after the All-Star break, according to Matt Kawahara of The Sacramento Bee. Casspi was projected to miss one or two weeks after straining the plantaris tendon in his right calf during a January 16th practice. He was re-evaluated last week and hoped to play this weekend, but coach Dave Joerger said Saturday that the return could take much longer. “I don’t think we’re going to see Omri ’til after the All-Star break,” Joerger said. “That could change, but we’d rather be a little conservative with him.” Casspi has appeared in just 22 games this season, averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.
  • The injuries have also created an expanded role for first-round pick Malachi Richardson, writes James Ham of CSNBayArea. Richardson has spent much of the season in the D-League, but has been used by Joerger in the past eight games.
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