Israeli NBA player Omri Caspi signed on Tuesday a three-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv, returning to the team after a decade of playing in the NBA.
Caspi, 31, is the first Israeli to play in the NBA and is now concluding his successful NBA career. The forward decided to return back home after several seasons of diminished playing time and injuries.
The Israeli team, which has won the Euro League six times in the past, has been struggling in recent seasons. The team hopes to create positive momentum with the return of the NBA star, naming him captain of the team.
“The truth is that I am very excited. I did not believe I would be this excited. I am returning home, returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv,” Caspi told Maccabi’s official site about his return. “I got here for the first time when I was 13 years old. I am proud and excited to be wearing the Maccabi jersey with the Star of David on the back. This is a very big privilege.”
After playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv for two seasons, Caspi was drafted 23rd overall in the 2009 NBA draft by the Sacramento Kings, making him the first Israeli to be selected in the first round of an NBA draft. With his NBA debut in 2009, Casspi became the first Israeli to play in the NBA.
As a rookie, Casspi was chosen to participate in the NBA All-Star Weekend Rookie Challenge.
In his decade-long career, Caspi played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies.
Caspi’s salary under the new contract hasn’t officially been released, but reports have said the three-year contract guaranteed him $3.2 million.
Maccabi’s coach, Giannis Sfairopoulos, is quite pleased with the trade, “Omri will help the team a lot in achieving our goals, and he is excited to come back and help the team. Maccabi brought back the best Israeli player, and that is certainly a statement,” he said.
By Arye Green/TPS