FanShot

Interesting Interviews with Omri

10

These are actually two separate articles, but I thought both were interesting and didn't want to post two fanshots. And just a disclaimer: I think the first journalist has an agenda, but I thought the quotes were worth reading. Omri Casspi is in a dilemma. His wonderful debut season in the NBA, along with a modest contract, made him a popular item in the league; Washington, Toronto, New York and Chicago want to acquire Casspi through trade. Chicago is the most vigorous suitor asking to begin negotiations, but at this point the Sacramento Kings will not give up the Israeli forward. Therefore, Casspi is faced with a problem: Sacramento, he knows well, will continue to tread water at the bottom of the Western Conference; On the other hand, he wants to stay with the Kings, who believed in him and gave him his first chance in the NBA. However, his long-term goal, Casspi admits in conversation with Haaretz Sports, "is to be in a team running for the championship. I hope it can happen to me with Sacramento. It would be very ugly for me to say today that I want to move to the Lakers. The team who took me from Maccabi and gave me a potential future was Sacramento. I feel this club trusts me, and I feel that I have a lot more to give the Kings. I wish we could restore the beautiful days of Sacramento, as they were at the beginning of the decade. " But it will not happen, and Casspi, deep down, may be aware of this. According to U.S. reports, the team owners, brothers Joe and Gavin Maloof, are in a heavy financial crisis. This puts the continued existence of the group at risk. Even on the court, Sacramento looks very bad: it holds a record of 23:6, the worst in the league. "We will not get into the playoffs, that's for sure. This season, we will not go anywhere," Casspi acknowledges. If so - considering that there were still some fifty games left in the season - what will drive him, the player who grew up one of the best clubs in the world? "The goal is to win as many games as possible," he says. "I can not give a number, because we are near a road trip, and it is very hard to win games on the road. I think that today, I will play to try and be consistent here, not just for me, but also for the team. The rest of our players have to be on this page too. The player who does not think about the future of the team, but only looks at his numbers, is making a mistake. Personally, I think I'm one of the three players that Sacramento is planning to build her future around. I work to justify the hopes they have for me." Even on a personal level, Casspi is having difficulties. He finished his rookie season with 77 games, 31 starts, 25.1 minutes on average, 10.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists; this season he has only started in eight games for an average of 22 minutes, with lower scores of 8.9 points and 3.5 rebounds. "I feel I got better this season. I worked hard in the gym, I got into better shape. Today I weigh 227 pounds, which is 103-104 kilograms. I improved my shooting. I have more experience. I'm no longer a rookie in this league, I know what to expect. Clearly, I want to play more, because I feel I have much more to give to the team, and I want to show everyone I came back this season a better player. Unfortunately, this season was not stable for me as I wanted and hoped it would be." In particular, the last two weeks Casspi has been going through a prolonged slump; in the last five games, he played only 14 minutes on average. And the fact that Sacramento did not loses frustrates him even more. "Sitting on the bench is strange and difficult for me," says Casspi, "Of course, the fact that I was not with family or with friends is hard. It's very difficult to play in an uncertain atmosphere, but it's part of being professional. It does not happen in every team, it hasn't happened to me in my career so far, and it still does not happen in other teams I'm looking at, but it is what happened. If I take it poorly, the situation will become worse. I do not have to fight. Our coach has various systems, and we all need to make the adjustments. This situation is not easy; there is pressure, there is an audience with expectations, and the fact that you do not know why you will play or not play is problematic, but I'm more experienced and know that the best thing I can do right now is be patient. " Common to many of Sacramento's victories this season was the following statistic - multiple players scored in double figures. "I feed on team play, and if one plays well, then we all play better," he says about it. "But when a player scores 20 points and the rest do not score, it can work here and there, but not for long. Over time, if we are together, on one front, we win more. Teams make the playoffs, not a collection of individuals," says Casspi. So why do they lose so much? "It's really very, very difficult," says Casspi. "I actually think we have the tools to succeed and the talent, but we lack the small things that would give us victories. We need to upgrade the offense. The ball must pass between more hands, because that would make it more difficult to defend us. We are losing by small margins. It means we can win, but a loss is a loss, and on a personal level, I have to say that losses affect me." Something that adds even more disappointment for Casspi is that "just last year we improved from 17 to 24 wins. Before the season we talked about the reaching 35-40 victories, but now looks like it's going the other way. It's hard to understand why this happened to us. We have talent, we have many good players, but maybe we aren't using them properly to their full ability. This should be the work of the players, coaches and staff." But Casspi will not give up; he is at the peak of physical fitness ("My body has adjusted, now I know what a season of 82 games means,"), in the locker room he feels better than ever ("I have a strong voice this year, that's for sure. I'm happy to make sure the rookies bring the donuts and Barbie bags everywhere,"), and personally, he think he could still return his performance to the level of last season. "In terms of numbers, before the season I was expecting to upgrade myself to 13-14 points on average," says Casspi, "and it is still feasible. I was an All-Star last year with 12.7 points. Today, I am going on 9. The initial goal is to get to 12 by All-Star Weekend, then improve again. I think if I get enough minutes, then I can do it. But I have work to do, and to get minutes I should be at my best." Sacramento loses all the time, but Casspi's former team is winning without a break; Casspi stresses that he is happy to see that Maccabi Tel Aviv is shining again. "Maccabi has had an amazing year. There were many question marks in the summer, but Maccabi's just playing the game and today there are a lot less questions. I see Baby Shaq at his best, great games from Lior Eliyahu, Tal Burstein is the leader again and it's fun to play with him. It's been an experience to see Maccabi's season to date." ---- Omri Casspi was selected by the Sports 5 channel as the Israeli athlete of the year in 2010 after playing as the first Israeli in the NBA for the Sacramento Kings and completing his rookie year. Casspi returned to Israel in the summer and led the Israeli team to the European Championships to be held next year, and then returned to the United States for his second season with the Kings. "The situation is quite difficult. The fact that we are losing a lot causes the coach to replace a lot of players in the starting five often," he said in an interview with Sports 5. "Recently we talked about the change we need. We need to play more as a team," added the forward, "Coach made a change in the rotation and we got kind of order and this is something that can help us win. I do not know how long this hierarchy will last, because we do not win many games. The rotation depends on the victories we achieve. Each player received personal feedback." "I feel I've progressed since my first season in the NBA because I know I am ready to play, so I never felt the need to coach and ask him about my status," Casspi said about his own status on the team. "I believe that without a lot of talk, I have to work very hard to get ready to play." If there will be any change in Sacramento's roster before the trade deadline, Casspi, because of his good, low-cost contract, may switch to a new home. And yes, he is aware of the possible scenario: "First of all, I'm aware of the talk about trading. Recently, there were all sorts of interesting suggestions, but at the moment Kings do not want to release me to any group and I'm happy about it. Beyond that, nothing depends on me. The possibily that Paul Westphal may be fired as coach is mere talk, and should not affect the group. He is a good coach and I trust him. The whole team appreciates him. " "In the national team, we played together, as a team. I think we are not enough as a team in Sacramento. Recently, we've tried to share the ball among all the players. When you see San Antonio for example, playoff contenders this season - they play games as a team regularly and we strive to reach this level." Walla Sports (Hebrew) News 1 (Hebrew)

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