With only 13 games remaining after tonight, the Minnesota Timberwolves have made a minor upgrade to their roster.
As first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN and later confirmed by Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press, the Timberwolves have signed small forward Omri Casspi. The deal ensures Casspi a roster spot with Minnesota for the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
Casspi, 28, has endured a hectic year as he will suit up for his third team. The Israel native began the year with the Sacramento Kings, where he played in just 22 games as battled various injuries, including a strained tendon in his right calf. The day after the 2017 NBA All-Star game, Casspi, along with DeMarcus Cousins, was shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Tyreke Evans, Buddy Hield, Langston Galloway, and 2017 first round and second round draft picks.
However, after scoring 12 points in his Pelicans debut, Casspi suffered a broken right thumb in the same game (a 129-99 loss to the Houston Rockets). Casspi was expected to miss four-to-six weeks due to the break and was waived by the Pelicans the next day.
— Hoops Rumors (@HoopsRumors) March 19, 2017
Chasing a playoff spot with the newly acquired Cousins and NBA All-Star game MVP Anthony Davis in the frontcourt, the Pelicans added Reggie Williams on a 10-day contract.
In 23 total games with the Kings and Pelicans, Casspi averaged 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game.
As Stein noted, the Boston Celtics had interest in Casspi but the Kings won the sweepstakes. Minnesota has suffered the loss of Zach LaVine and more recently, forward Nemanja Bjelica was ruled out for the rest of the year with an injured left foot.
Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau “made a personal recruiting pitch to Omri Casspi over dinner in New Orleans before the Wolves play there tonight,” Stein reported.
The 6-foot-9 Casspi is best known for his outside shooting, a key weapon the Timberwolves will look to utilize as they make a playoff push.
In limited action this season, Casspi was a.394 percent shooter from beyond the arc; for his career, he sports a 36.9 percent mark from three-point range.
One major supporter of this deal is Kevin Pelton of ESPN. While the deal is only for this season, Pelton says a strong showing down the stretch could create a strong role for Casspi on next year’s squad.
“I love the fit of Omri Casspi with the Minnesota Timberwolves, as reported by ESPN’s Marc Stein. Casspi can take the place of the injured Nemanja Bjelica (out for the season due to a left foot injury) as a stretch 4. If he’s in Minnesota next season, Casspi could slide to the wing, allowing the Timberwolves to slide Andrew Wiggins to shooting guard more often without sacrificing shooting.”
The signing of Casspi comes on the same day the Timberwolves released forward Lance Stephenson. The Brooklyn, New York, native ironically saw a similar path in the NBA this season with Casspi.
After remaining unsigned well into the preseason, Stephenson latched on with the Pelicans but appeared in just six games before suffering a groin injury, sidelining him for six-to-10 weeks. He then signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Timberwolves but also made just six appearances — seeing 16 minutes of action on the day he signed his second 10-day deal and just two minutes up until his release.
— Hoops Rumors (@HoopsRumors) March 18, 2017
Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News reported that Minnesota also has some interest in international sensation and former NBA player Jimmer Fredette. He enjoyed an MVP-winning season in China and since he has not been under contract with an NBA team this season, he’s eligible for the postseason.
[Featured Image by Gerald Herbert/AP Images]