David Federman, co-owner of Maccabi Tel Aviv, recently announced to Israeli media that his club had negotiated and signed a deal with 23-year-old Israeli NBA star, Omri Casspi. Only weeks afterwards, many sources in Euroleague basketball report that due to several reasons, including income tax issues, Casspi has an entirely different idea of where he will be taking his talents during an interim stint in Europe. “Unfortunately, several significant problems, like taxes, have prevented me from joining the team I most wanted to play for,” Casspi wrote on his Facebook page. He later added, “I wish to thank David Federman and Shimon Mizrahi for their sincerity and understanding throughout the negotiations. I have immense respect for both of them. Addressing myriads of disappointed supporters, Casspi added, “I want to thank all Maccabi fans for their love, and at this moment in time I’m as sad as they are.”
Casspi who has spent the previous two years in the U.S., with the Sacramento Kings, and had been traded recently to the Cleveland Cavaliers, hoped to secure a spot playing with his former hometown club: European basketball’s perennial powerhouse- Mac TA (Macabbi Tel Aviv). This would have joined him with fellow Jewish NBA player, Jordan Farmar, in addition to bolstering the team’s chances of winning another title. But, it was not meant to be.
According to Jerusalem Post and ESPN reports, ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne or ASVEL Basket (a French professional basketball team located in the city of Villeurbanne, a suburb of Lyon, France) is interested in signing the young Israeli forward to a deal that would bring him on board with them for the duration of the NBA league lockout. At ASVEL, France’s most highly-titled team, Casspi could play alongside San Antonio Spurs All Star point guard, Tony Parker, a French native and Vice President/Co-owner of the team. In addition, Casspi and Parker are both represented by the same agent, Steven Huemann, who is working at orchestrating a shared venue for the dynamic duo.
Casspi has received several offers from other European clubs, including Russian teams Spartak St. Petersburg and Khimki Moscow, but the current favorite seems to be France.
Casspi is presently nursing an injured left knee that threatens to knock him out of the European Championships (EuroBasket) later this month in Lithuania. Casspi, Israel’s only NBA player, told reporters over the weekend that “right now my leg is in a bad state.”