After the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted power forward Tristan Thompson from Texas with the fourth pick in last week’s NBA Draft the team had a surplus of players at the four spot, and the handwriting was on the wall that they would be looking to trade one of the players they had at that position on their roster. Exactly one week later they consummated a deal with the Sacramento Kings Thursday night according to a report from the “Cleveland Plain Dealer” and the team is hoping the deal will fill the void they have at small forward . Cleveland has sent starter J.J. Hickson to the Kings in return for small forward Omri Casspi as well as Sacramento’s Lottery protected first round selection in next year’s Draft.
The two teams were able to complete the deal before the start of the NBA Lockout which began at 12:01 am Friday morning, which put a moratorium on all trades in the Association. The work-stoppage has also stopped any activity on the Free Agent front.
Casspi was drafted by the Kings with the 23rd pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and he is the first Israeli born player to play in the Association. The 23-year-old forward won the Israeli Premier League Championship during the 2005-2006 while playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv. He told reporters that he is very excited about the trade. Casspi said “It’s a great opportunity for me to come to a new team and start a new way in my basketball career. I think Cleveland is a wonderful city with great fans. I can’t wait to start.”
The forward has averaged 9.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in his two years in the NBA. He started 27 games for Sacramento this past season. Cavaliers have been looking for a wingman since LeBron James left for the Miami Heat last summer. The former Kings player is not coming to Cleveland expecting to be handed the starting job. Casspi said “It’s still early. It’s a very important summer for me. I need to step up. It’s a great opportunity for me to come to a new organization and show everything I can do and be the best teammate I can be. I’m willing to put in the work. I’m always trying to get better. We’ll see what happens. Competition is always great.”
Cleveland General Manager Chris Grant praised his new forward when talking with the media and he believes that Casspi will be a good fit for the team. He said “He’s a tough, athletic 6-foot-9 kid who runs the floor great, which is good for our point guards. He’s got some nastiness about him. He’s got some fight in him, which we really like. He’s a worker. He rebounds the ball well as a small forward. He can make shots. He’s pretty good at curling and coming off a down-screen and catching and shooting, which is good with the makeup of our point-guard play, so he fits in well.”
Cleveland will get the Kings first round selection in the 2012 NBA Draft if Sacramento is not in the Lottery. The Kings will hold onto the selection if it is in the top 13 in 2013, the top 12 in 2014 and the top ten picks in 2015-2017. If Cleveland does not get the first round pick by 2017, then the team will acquire the Kings second round pick that year.
Hickson fell into Cavalier’s head coach Byron Scott’s doghouse early in the season due to his lack of focus during games. He was nailed to the bench for a portion of the campaign but became a starter out of necessity after Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao were lost to injuries. Hickson averaged 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds for this past season, but apparently that was not enough to keep the Cavaliers from trading him. Hickson was drafted by Cleveland with the 19th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.