Omri Casspi's is an intriguing story. He made the NBA All-Rookie team last year after having been drafted 23rd overall in 2009 by Sacramento, making him the first Israeli to be selected in the first round of the draft. … and then the first Israeli to play in an NBA game.
He's a 6-9 swingman, with some bulk, hss some perimeter skills, is averaging 8.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 22 minutes per game … and he's just 22. Somewhere, it should be mentioned that his heritage might be a drawing card in some NBA cities, so that might be factored in to some of the buzz surrounding him.
Oh, and he makes just $1.25 million.
There's only one problem with the Casspi-to-Dallas concepts, as creative as they might be:
The Mavericks personnel department suggests we don't bother, as it doesn't think especially highly of Omri Casspi's talent.
My plugged-in friend Marc Stein of ESPN has connected some dots between Dallas and Sacramento. But any praise for Casspi's game -- while it surely came from somewhere if the relible Steiny-Mo reported it -- did not come from Mavericks scouting types, who care less about the salary and are all about how much Casspi could help a Mavs team trying to compete for a title.
How much? Not much.
Part of the issue here, too, is the baggage that would seemingly come along with Casspi: The teams that might truly want him – not Dallas, but the Bulls and the Knicks, reportedly – will probably have to be willing to take on heavy contractual ballast, too.
Said one NBA source: "All (Sacramento) is trying to do is clear out space for next year. They are done with this year. It's just going to be a salary
An interesting plan for the Mavs – again, except for the fact that Dallas personnel people want no part of the centerpiece … and, additionally, giving up Carl Landry as the add-on isn't what Sacto has in mind.
If you want Casspri … you have to also take Francisco Garcia ($12 million owed over two more seasons) … or maybe you get Samuel Dalembert, the center who is buried on their bench (ala Brendan Haywood) while collecting $12 million this year to do so. … or you get stuck with Beno Udrih for three more expensive seasons.
I had a long conversation this week with an NBA staffer with intimate knowledge of Mavs owner Mark Cuban's thinking on this sort of thing. The quote:
"Mark has no problem spending the money … for a player. But he's not going to spend the money on a non-player. You end up doubling a guy's salary (the cost of luxury tax), he better be a difference-maker … and the baggage you have to take on (that new player's expensive teammate) better be able to play, too.''
My question that unearthed that answer was specifically about Dallas' interest in Philly's Andre Iguodala (expensive and arguably a difference-maker) and having to take with him Elton Brand (expensive, not a difference-maker, and a lux-tax crusher).
But that answer also applies to Omri Casspi.
Is he a difference-maker? No.
Would the expensive teammate he brings with him as trade baggage be worth it? No – and there is no reason to include Carl Landry in this conversation, as some have none. Landry is a contributor, a blue-collar defender and interior scorer. He'd be valued, in Dallas and elsewhere. He's only paid $3 mil and he's an expiring. By the Feb. 24 trade deadline, expect a mini-bidding war for Landry. And because of the Sacto ownership mindset, expect cash to be king. (Pun intended.)
(Now, if Sacto or anybody else wants to sacrifice a $3-mil player like Landry in exchange for one of the Mavs' handful of TE's, Dallas will do that in a snap.)
None of this, by the way, is at the level of Caron Butler's expiring. It'd be a mistake for anyone to believe that the Kings players who are on the market (that is, almost everyone except Tyreke Evans) are worthy of that still-valuable chip.
Also: Don't confuse potential Landry talks with supposed Casspi talks. The Landry-to-Dallas argument is completely separate from the Casspi-to-Dallas inventions.
Why? Because Landry doesn't necessary come with side-car baggage, as Casspi certainly will … and because Landry can play now at a high level – unlike what Dallas believes Casspi can do.