Israeli NBA player Omri Casspi did not deny reports Monday that he was looking to be traded away from Cleveland, but said he would be happy to stay with the Cavaliers.
Casspi, the NBA’s first Israeli, recently saw his playing time for the struggling team plummet, prompting reports that the forward was looking to be traded away.
“Of course, I like Cleveland,” Casspi told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “Cleveland has been great to me. The fans, the city, the organization. That’s where I’m focused. I don’t have any other focus but help my team win. Whatever the future holds will happen.”
Casspi has averaged 4.9 points and 2.5 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game for the 8-28 Cavs. On Monday, Casspi managed four points, one assist and one steal in 16 minutes during a losing effort against the Chicago Bulls.
Brought to Cleveland from Sacramento last season, Casspi began as a starter, but quickly fell out of coach Byron Scott’s favor. Before Monday, he had not seen significant playing time since December 11 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Scott said Casspi’s demotion was just a product of the amount of players in the Cavs’ rotation and that the Yavne-native had done nothing wrong.
“Omri’s been great,” Scott told the Plain Dealer. “As far as him playing and things like that, he’s probably going to get another shot at it. It’s just a matter of time and me finagling some other lineups and things like that. As far as I know, he’s been great.”
Earlier Monday, Yahoo Sports reported, citing unnamed league sources, that Casspi’s agent had requested a trade and the Cavs management were working to make it happen.
Casspi had no comment on the report. There have been similar rumors regarding Casspi’s future throughout the past year, since he left the Cavs starting rotation.
Casspi, a standout at Maccabi Tel Aviv, entered the NBA draft in 2009, being picked up by the Sacramento Kings in the first round. As Israel’s only ambassador to major American professional sports, Casspi has become a fan favorite for Jewish communities in cities with NBA teams.
An earlier version of this story misreported the team that drafted Casspi. We regret the error.