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Omri Casspi Set to Become First Israeli NBA Player

Jun 26, 2009 – 12:39 AM
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Tom Ziller

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Omri CasspiThree prospects from basketball-crazed Israel -- Doron Shefer, Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin -- have been drafted by NBA teams in the past. But all were second-round picks, and none of the three made the league. But Omri Casspi took a major step for Israeli basketball by making into the first round, where the Kings picked him at No. 23.

There had been fears Casspi would be selected by a team seeking to "stash" him in Europe for a year or two, keeping his salary off the books but preventing another team from grabbing the talented forward. That won't be the case with Sacramento. The Kings need a talent infusion now. After speaking with team officials, Casspi told media he would be in the NBA in 2009-10.

Casspi will be competing for minutes with Donté Greene, an electric forward acquired in last year's Ron Artest trade. Andres Nocioni seems to be the de facto starter at the position, but there have been suggestions he'll be traded this offseason. Francisco Garcia also spends some time at the three, and begins a five-year deal this season.
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