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As the NBA season was set to open last night, David Bluthenthal's NBA dreams were coming to a close. Bluthenthal was one of three players the Sacramento Kings released Monday, as the team announced its roster for the 2004-5 campaign.

While local fans wait for the day when the first Israeli player makes it to the NBA, they had hoped the former Maccabi Tel Aviv star could become the first Israeli citizen and only Jewish player in the league.

Bluthenthal received a three-month contract with the Kings, but playing in the NBA is a much more complicated business. His strong perimeter shooting and Euroleague experience seemed to be a good match for the Kings, one of the most European oriented teams in the NBA. However, while averaging only 3.4 points a game during the exhibition season, Bluthenthal failed to make a big enough impression to earn a roster spot.

Bluthenthal, like many marginal NBA talents, was also the victim of a numbers game and some bad luck. Most NBA teams carry a 15-man roster - 12 active players plus another three on injured reserve to replace ailing performers. As a cost-saving measure, Sacramento will only carry 13 players on its roster.

Eli Sahar adds: Bluthenthal was the talk of the town yesterday as Maccabi returned from its impressive 102-75 victory over Zalgiris in Lithuania. Maccabi coach Pini Gershon said that Bluthenthal's return was an option, but added the club would not bring him back at any price.