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June 27, 2012 7:34 am

Israel Hoopster Has “Real Chance” to Make NBA Roster in Minnesota

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Lior Eliyahu (middle) during his time with Maccabi Tel Aviv. Photo:

Forward Lior Eliyahu, whose rights were traded Tuesday from the Houston Rockets to the Minnesota Timberwolves, could join fellow Israeli hoopster Omri Casspi in the National Basketball Association next season.

Eliyahu, drafted 44th in 2006, was not a first-round pick and therefore did not receive a guaranteed NBA contract like Casspi, the current Cleveland Cavaliers forward.

The 6-foot-10, 232-pound Eliyahu won a Spanish League championship in June 2010 and that September signed a five-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he averaged 11.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game this season.

If a $500,000 NBA buyout clause in his Maccabi contract is settled, the 26-year-old Eliyahu can officially leave the Israeli team this summer.

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“Lior Eliyahu will join the Timberwolves for [the NBA] Summer League in Las Vegas,” Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress reported via Twitter. “[He] has a real chance to make their team it sounds.”

Minnesota acquired Eliyahu and forward Chase Budinger for the 18th pick in the June 28 draft.

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