Israeli basketball player Omri Casspi is reportedly close to signing with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, after being cleared to return to the court following an injury.
Casspi, the first Israeli to play in the NBA, was waived by the New Orleans Pelicans after breaking his thumb in his first game with the team in February.
According to the sports website SB Nation, Casspi’s condition has improved quicker than anticipated, and he will be able to play the final three weeks of regular season.
ESPN reported that Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau “made a personal recruiting pitch to Omri Casspi over dinner in New Orleans,” and that the Israeli star is expected to fly to Minneapolis with the team on Sunday night after their game in New Orleans.
The deal, according to sports media, does not include details about next year.
Omri Casspi is closing on a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to league sources
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) March 19, 2017
AP Source says Casspi deal with Wolves just covers the two sides to the end of the season. Nothing included yet for next year.
— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) March 19, 2017
Though a number of teams including the Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers have expressed interest in the Israeli forward, the Minnesota Timberwolves appears to be Casspi’s number one choice.
Casspi joined the Sacramento Kings in 2009 and played there for two years, when he was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he played for another two years, spending much of his time on the bench. He spent a year with the Houston Rockets and then was traded to the Pelicans, who put him on waivers, where he was again picked up by the Kings.
Casspi played with the championship Maccabi Tel Aviv team in Israel before making himself available for the 2008 NBA draft.
The 6-foot-9 Casspi had been playing about 19 minutes per game this season, averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.