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Looking back: Last trade in the NBA

July 15, 2011 |  7:30 pm


You might say Omri Casspi is a history-making kind of guy.

He became the first Israeli to play in the NBA, having been drafted by the Sacramento Kings in 2009. And now, Casspi stands as part of the last NBA trade made before the doors shut for business.

Will it be for weeks? Months? Years?

It will only seem that way as the NBA lockout is ending its second week. Casspi and a future first-round pick were sent from Sacramento to Cleveland in exchange for J.J. Hickson on June 30, a few hours before the start of the lockout.

Casspi happened to be in the Los Angeles area when the trade came down, holding his Impact Skills basketball camp at the Jewish Community Center in West Hills. Earlier that week, he met with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at City Hall for a special presentation.

If Casspi had any indication that he was about to be moved to the Cavaliers -- or anywhere else -– he did a good job of masking it during a brief phone chat the night before the trade, talking about his camps, his summer plans and his legacy.

After West Hills, he held another youth basketball camp in Israel and will next join Israel’s national team on July 25 to start practicing for the European Championships later this summer in Lithuania.

His oft-told story of making it in the NBA never gets old.

“First of all, nobody ever made it from Israel,” Casspi said. “It was hard growing up. Everybody was asking who was going to be the first one playing in the NBA: Who was going to break that barrier to make it?

“I never really expected me to make it. And then when I was growing up and getting better and better as a basketball player, I was going to take that talent and work as hard as I can to make it.

“The sky was the limit for everyone.”

The natural question is: Who, and how many, eventually will follow Casspi to the NBA? What is the old crystal ball telling him?

“I don’t know -- hopefully as many as we can,” he said. “When you are 18 in Israel and leave junior team and start to play professional, it’s a big step.

“And going overseas is another big step. And it’s another huge step to make the NBA. It’s hard. Hopefully as many as we can.

“Ten. Five. Even one more.”


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--Lisa Dillman

Photo: Omri Casspi (red shirt) at his Impact Skills camp at the Jewish Community Center in West Hills. Credit: Sports Media World