Ailene Voisin

‘I love you guys. I understand’: Why Omri Casspi must wait for first playoff action

Omri Casspi was waived by the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, meaning the former King will continue to have the most NBA experience without playing in the postseason.
Omri Casspi was waived by the Golden State Warriors on Sunday, meaning the former King will continue to have the most NBA experience without playing in the postseason. The Associated Press

Omri Casspi’s run of miserable luck continues.

The popular former King, who signed a minimum contract with the Golden State Warriors last offseason, was waived Sunday – mere days before what would have been his first NBA playoff appearance.

The 10-year veteran reached the postseason with the 2013-14 Houston Rockets but did not see action. He has played more regular season games (552) than any active player who has yet to see playoff action.

The Warriors cleared the roster spot to sign two-way player Quinn Cook, a backup point guard who has performed well during Stephen Curry’s injury absence. They also opted to retain bigs Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney, David West and Damian Jones.

Casspi’s prospects to make the playoff roster diminished significantly in recent weeks, when he remained sidelined with a severely sprained right ankle, complicated by a bone bruise. The injuries adhered to a pattern that has plagued Casspi since he was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans with All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in February 2017. In his Pelicans debut, the native of Yavne, Israel, fractured his right thumb and was unavailable until the final week of the season.

The Warriors wooed him to Oakland in July with a one-year, $2.1 million minimum salary because, well, because of who they are and what might have been. But the hits just kept coming: a sprained right ankle in preseason, a sprained left ankle in the regular-season opener, a low back strain that lingered for weeks and the right ankle injury that failed to heal before he could re-establish himself as a valuable contributor who scores in transition, fools defenders with backdoor cuts, spaces the floor with his 3-point shooting (45.5 percent) and consistently provides energy and effort.

“It was difficult to sit with him and tell him we were going to do this,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters before Sunday’s game in Phoenix. “But it was the only decision we could make under the circumstances.”

When the swelling and discomfort in his right foot failed to subside, Casspi saw a foot specialist in Los Angeles but was refused his request for a pain-killing injection.

“The doctors said they couldn’t give me a shot into the bone, which is the real problem,” Casspi told The Bee on Sunday night. “The ankle is fine. I could have played except for the bruise.”

Casspi, 30, plans to spend the next few weeks visiting family in Tel Aviv, then return to Los Angeles to continue rehabilitating and training during the offseason.

Famously upbeat, he has no desire to resume his career in Europe, which he started with Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“No, I want to stay in the NBA,” he said. “I learned so much this year with the Warriors. That’s what makes this so hard. That is an amazing organization, and Steve, the way he handles things, the good times and the adversity, is really impressive. He told me he loves what I bring, too, and I could tell it was hard for him to tell me.

"When we met with (Warriors GM) Bob (Myers) last night, Steve kept looking down. I told him, ‘I love you guys. I understand.’ I just feel if I could have ever gotten healthy, I’d be on on the playoff roster. But what are you going to do? This is a hard business sometimes.”

No, a lot of times.