NBA Sunday: Casspi On The Outs In Cleveland?
When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Omri Casspi from the Sacramento Kings before the start of the 2012 season the franchise believed they were receiving their small forward of the future in the deal.
Fast forward nearly 18 months and it appears Casspi may now be the odd man out in Cleveland’s rebuilding plans. The relationship started off as expected with Casspi earning a spot in the team’s starting lineup, but the forward lost his starting role midway through last season to the emerging Alonzo Gee.
Casspi spent a good portion of this past summer working out at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas addressing the areas of his game Cavs head coach Byron Scott said would lead to a more solidified spot in the rotation this season.
However, Casspi is now even further down the depth chart and averaging a career-low 13 minutes per game. The forward is a bit confused by this development after believing he had an understanding with Scott.
“Most of the stuff [coach Scott] told me to work on, I did,” Casspi said to HOOPSWORLD. “I worked on them during the summer. During the season we make the little adjustments we need to make. But other than that we need to just focus on the team perspective. But we worked on my jump shot and other stuff I needed to do this summer.
“I just try to do my job and step by step get more and more minutes. The way to do it is by keep working hard and doing what I need to do on both ends of the floor.”
Casspi, the 23rd overall pick of the 2009 draft, was eligible for an early extension but both parties couldn’t agree to a deal before the Oct. 31 deadline. The Cavs now have until June 30 to offer Casspi a qualifying offer, which would then make the forward a restricted free agent and give the franchise the right to match any offer received for his services during free agency.
The fourth year forward says the contract and playing time issues won’t become a distraction, but makes it clear he is now looking forward to testing his market value in free agency and confident his skills will bring in suitors.
“I’m looking forward to free agency to see what’s going to happen and see what [deals] are out there,” Casspi said. “I’m pretty confident where I’m at.”
For now, Casspi admits the biggest adjustment he’s had to make due to his shrinking role is remaining patient when his number is called by Scott as the coach has gained more and more confidence in Gee at small forward.
“You only have a certain time that you play and you want to do so much,” Casspi said. “You have to slow it down sometimes. I agree. It’s something I really thought about earlier. Not trying to get 25 rebounds in the six or seven minutes that I play. Or score twenty points. Take it one step at a time, be aggressive and do what I need to do to help the team win.”
Casspi is averaging career lows in minutes (13.0), points (6.0), rebounds (2.4) and assists (0.3) per game to start the season, but is shooting a career-best 52 percent from three-point range.
DeSagana Diop Talks Retirement, Wants To End Career With Charlotte Bobcats
The Charlotte Bobcats rank as arguably the league’s most improved team this season. After winning just seven games all of last season, the Bobcats currently hold a 7-8 mark early in the 2013 campaign.
Veteran center DeSagana Diop has been through some of the most recent tough times in Charlotte since being traded to the Bobcats in January 2009. The No. 8 overall pick of the 2001 draft will be an unrestricted free agent next summer and makes it clear he wants to end his career wearing a Bobcats uniform.
“I like Charlotte a lot,” Diop said to HOOPSWORLD. “I get along with the coach [Mike Dunlap], the general manager [Rich Cho] and the good people of Charlotte. I’m just going one day at a time this season and see what happens this summer.”
Diop, now in his 12th season, readily admits the rigors of playing in the NBA all these years have started to take a toll on his seven-foot frame, but feels he still has a few years left in the tank before he walks away from the game for good.
“I’ve got a couple more years and I’m out of here,” Diop said. “I’m going to play until I can’t play anymore. But you realize that you’re 30 [years old] and that it’s not how it was at 25 when you wake up. Your body aches. Your ankles, knees and all of that. You just got to take care of your body and at the same time, you realize that it’s coming to an end.”
“I’m the second oldest guy on the team. It’s crazy. You know when I was coming into the league I was 18 [years old], the youngest. It went so fast though. I just try to be a leader and help the young guys.”
Diop has yet to register a field goal this season, but from a team standpoint he has been pleased with how quickly his teammates have adapted to Dunlap’s style of coaching.
“We’re playing a lot better with a different coach,” Diop said. “We have five new players. With coach coming from college, training camp was hard. We just go out there and play hard. That’s what we’ve been doing. When you play hard things will fall into the right place.”
“Guys are buying into it. You’ve got a lot of young guys and they don’t know no better. Wherever coach tells them, they just go out there and do it.”
Popovich’s Strategy Pays Off, Rested Spurs Defeat Memphis Grizzlies
The San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 by the league this past week for head coach Gregg Popovich’s decision to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home to rest instead of lacing them up in a nationally televised game versus the Miami HEAT. Popovich wanted to rest his top players to get them ready for Saturday’s tilt versus the Memphis Grizzlies.
The fine by the league raised numerous questions and also set a dangerous precedent on the treatment of coaches who choose to exercise their respective rights with their rosters.
Commissioner David Stern called Popovich’s move a “disservice to the league and our fans.” Popovich countered by saying he doesn’t view things from a fans perspective.
“What I do from my perspective is a coaching perspective,” Popovich said according to Jeff McDonald of the Express-News. “I think the league operates from a business perspective, and that’s reflected in the action they took.”
Although the Spurs lost a spirited battle to the HEAT in the closing seconds, the team rebounded with a strong overtime win versus the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday night in a clash of Western Conference elite teams.
After the game All-Star guard Tony Parker said there was extra motivation to have Popovich’s back.
“We definitely have always got Pop’s back,” Parker said. “I felt like (the game) was for Pop. I wanted to be super aggressive and make sure we win the game.”
The Spurs are now 14-4 and own the second best win percentage in the Western Conference.
Up Close With Brian Butch
D-League veteran Brian Butch is playing this season with the Bakersfield Jam and HOOPSWORLD caught up with him to talk about this season, what he’s looking to showcase and his thoughts on the Jam as a whole in this video interview.