Omri Casspi

And-Ones: Oden, Casspi, One-And-Done, Loyd

Sixty teams have been announced for this summer’s The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team, $2MM, winner-take-all competition, writes Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com. While no NBA players will play in the tournament, several ex-NBAers – including Sundiata Gaines, Donte Greene, and former No. 1 pick Greg Oden – will participate, and some current NBA players will be coaches.

Let’s round up a few more items from around the basketball world…

  • Omri Casspi, who was formerly represented by Dan Fegan, has changed agents and signed with CAA Sports, per Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Casspi, whose change in representation was reported last month in the wake of Fegan’s legal troubles, will be a free agent this offseason.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer takes a deep dive into the changes the NBA may eventually make to the current one-and-done system for players coming out of high school, noting that many team execs don’t necessarily agree with commissioner Adam Silver on the matter.
  • D-League guard Jordan Loyd is drawing some NBA interest, according to international reporter David Pick, who tweets that Loyd will attend a Nets free agent mini-camp, then will audition for the Clippers and play in Summer League with the Pacers. The 23-year-old averaged 15.1 PPG in 49 games for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in 2016/17.
  • In a pair of pieces for Basketball Insiders, James Blancarte and Spencer Davies identify several potential trade candidates in both the Western Conference and the Eastern Conference.

Wolves Notes: Casspi, Tucker, No. 7 Pick

It was an unusual season for veteran forward Omri Casspi, who saw his role significantly reduced by new Kings head coach Dave Joerger before he was packaged with DeMarcus Cousins in a February trade to New Orleans. Dubbed an important part of that trade for the Pelicans, Casspi almost immediately broke his thumb, forcing New Orleans to waive him. Casspi later signed with the Timberwolves when he got healthy, finishing the 2016/17 campaign by appearing in 13 games for Minnesota.

Casspi didn’t play much for the Wolves, and averaged just 3.5 PPG when he saw the court, but Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) doesn’t rule out the possibility of the 28-year-old re-signing with the club. Still, Wolfson expects the Wolves to prioritize other free agents.

Here’s more out of Minnesota, including an additional note on Casspi:

  • Following up on Casspi, Wolfson reports (via Twitter) that the former first-round pick has left agent Dan Fegan. Fegan was fired and sued by his former agency earlier this year, so it’s not a huge surprise that Casspi would be looking for new representation as he enters free agency.
  • Discussing the Timberwolves on 1500 ESPN’s The Scoop podcast, Wolfson said this week that he has heard Minnesota is “very much” on P.J. Tucker‘s radar (hat tip to HoopsHype). Tucker will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and would be a nice fit for the Wolves, providing strong defense and a decent outside shot.
  • An NBA source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that Timberwolves head coach and president Tom Thibodeau has considered the possibility of trading down from No. 7. Berman suggests that the Wolves are leaning toward drafting a wing – rather than a big – if they stay where they are, though many mock drafts have linked Minnesota to power forward Jonathan Isaac.

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.

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