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Kings’ Omri Casspi’s confidence persists despite preseason struggles

Kings forward Omri Casspi remains optimistic despite some struggles during the preseason. He’s celebrating a three-point basketbal by center DeMarcus Cousins against the New York Knicks on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014.
Kings forward Omri Casspi remains optimistic despite some struggles during the preseason. He’s celebrating a three-point basketbal by center DeMarcus Cousins against the New York Knicks on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. hamezcua@sacbee.com

Training camp and the preseason didn’t go smoothly for Omri Casspi.

Besides the aches that come with camp, Casspi left a game because of an illness, and his playing time was inconsistent.

The Kings swingman isn’t worried, though. In Saturday’s preseason finale against the New Orleans Hornets, Casspi had his best preseason performance: 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and no turnovers.

On Saturday, Casspi played 23 minutes, his most this preseason, and finally resembled the player who broke out of a slump last season with his running, energy and three-point shooting in coach George Karl’s system.

“It felt good,” Casspi said. “I was kind of hurt, and then I was sick (in earlier preseason games), so I wasn’t nervous about it. I knew once I got out there and played, I felt pretty confident I’d do what I do and this team needs it.”

Karl experimented with lineups during the six preseason games and admitted he didn’t give Casspi consistent minutes.

“I think it’s just a small window of work. It’s not a big window,” Karl said. “He’s a veteran and we have seven, eight days to get whatever conditioning in and extra shooting in and get his ballhandling under control. Sometimes his turnovers are bad spacing, sometimes his turnovers are bad decisions, so sometimes it came in different packages.”

Casspi had no turnovers in his past two preseason games after recording 10 in his first three.

But after seeing Casspi in 29 games last season, Karl already knows what the veteran brings off the bench. Under Karl, Casspi averaged 11.2 points and 4.7 rebounds and shot 47.5 percent, including 46.2 percent from three-point range.

The Kings re-signed Casspi in the offseason to solidify their bench.

“I think the way he played at the end of last year, he’s earned the right to be given some freedom and opportunity to figure out what happens this year,” Karl said.

Casspi also trusts Karl.

“I know coach Karl is going to give me the opportunity, and once I’m out there, it’s all on me,” Casspi said. “I really wasn’t nervous at all.”

Day off – The Kings received the day off Tuesday and resume practice Wednesday at their practice facility.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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