The first Israeli in the NBA Omri Casspi has returned home to Maccabi Tel Aviv after a 10-year career in the greatest league in the world. The 31-year old forward was the Sacramento Kings first round pick selected 23rd overall in the 2009 NBA draft and played close to 600 games in the NBA with seven teams.
“The truth is that I am very excited,” Casspi told the club’s official website. “I can’t believe that I would be this excited. I am returning home, returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv. I came here for the first time when I was 13 years old. I am proud and excited to be wearing the Maccabi jersey with the star of David on the back. This is a very big privilege.”
Head Coach Ioannis Sfairopolous also commented on the Yellow & Blue’s latest signing, “I am very pleased that we signed the best Israeli player. Omri will help the team achieve our goals and he is excited to come back and help the team fight for its goals. Maccabi brought back the best Israeli player and that is a statement.”
Casspi began his career in Maccabi Tel Aviv’s youth system and made his professional debut at the age of 17 during the 2005/06 season. He was subsequently loaned out to Hapoel Galil Elyon the following season but returned to the Yellow & Blue in time for the 2007/08 campaign where he spent two seasons earning the Israeli league championship in 2009.
After being drafted, Casspi went on to have a successful rookie season with the Kings where he also was selected to play in the 2010 NBA All-Star Weekend Rookie Challenge. Following two seasons with the Kings in which he averaged close to 10 points a game, the Holon native was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he plied his trade for a pair of campaigns. A season with the Houston Rockets was up next followed by a trip back to Sacramento where he spent two and half productive years with the Kings.
In February of 2017, Casspi along with Demarcus Cousins were shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans, however, the Israeli broke his right thumb in his first game with his new team and was released soon thereafter. A short spell with the Minnesota Timberwolves ended a forgettable 2016/2017 season.
Over the summer of 2017, the Golden State Warriors came calling and Casspi signed with the star studded franchise. In what looked to be the first chance for the 6”9 Sabra to reach the NBA playoffs, Casspi was waived in favor of Quinn Cook right before the start of the 2018 postseason. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green would go on to win the title as Casspi was awarded a Championship Ring due to his contribution throughout the campaign.
The Memphis Grizzlies were Casspi’s final NBA destination where he played in 36 games before being released after he had suffered a meniscus tear in his right knee in February of 2019. In 588 regular season games Casspi averaged 7.9 points, 4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in just over 20 minutes of action per game.
Casspi also represented his country on many occasions and served as the captain for the Blue & White at the 2015 and 2017 Eurobasket competitions.