Report: Omri Casspi near deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv

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While most of the major teams of Europe — the EuroLeague level teams — have shied away from signing NBA players Maccabi Tel Aviv has been the exception.

They already signed Jordan Farmar and now Omri Casspi is reportedly set to return to the team.

The Cavaliers forward played for the Israeli club before coming to the NBA and now is headed back there during the lockout, reports the Jerusalem Post (via SLAM).

Israeli NBA star Omri Casspi is returning to Maccabi Tel Aviv, David Federman, one of the club’s owners said in an interview with Army Radio on Sunday…

“We are really in advanced negotiations with Casspi and for a number of weeks we have been contemplating how to act. Assuming Omri wants to play in Europe, it will be with us,” Federman said.

Casspi would have an opt-out to return to the NBA if and when the lockout is resolved. Like the Farmar signing, this makes some sense for Maccabi Tel Aviv — Casspi would fit well with the team, he knows what to expect and he would help both at the gate and on the court. He reportedly would receive $40,000 a month to play there (well below the $1.3 million he would make next season in the NBA).

Casspi has played for the Kings the past couple seasons. He was traded to the Cavaliers on draft day.

This is a risk for Maccabi Tel Aviv — if the lockout is solved during the season they would lose two key players. They have already lost Jeremy Pargo, the quick guard who played for them last season but wants a shot in the NBA after he had a breakout year in Israel last season, he told ESPN.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.

Kevin Durant with huge dunk on visiting Fenerbahce Ulker

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Welcome to America, Fenerbahce Ulker.

The Turkish powerhouse was in America playing some exhibition games this preseason, and they got a first-hand reminder that Kevin Durant is back. KD had 13 points in the Thunder’s easy 111-81 win.

Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook got in on the act.