Off the Court A King-sized Dilemma

Draft next week could threaten Omri Casspi's status at Sacramento.

Jerry Mittleman
Jerry Mittleman

As most of the sports world follows the World Cup or the Celtic-Lakers finals, 28 NBA general managers are firmly focused on next Thursday's 2010 NBA Draft. Israel's "hometown team," the Sacramento Kings, have the fifth selection and their choice as well as events leading up to the draft could have important implications for the Kings as well as for Omri Casspi's future role with the club.

Among the Kings' many needs are getting more consistent scoring from the small forward position than they received from Casspi, among others, and greatly increasing their physical presence under the basket. Since this year's draft is particularly deep in quality frontcourt players and thin in the backcourt, the Kings will undoubtedly be selecting either a forward or a center. Since the Kings rarely reveal what they'll be doing on draft day their pick is anybody's guess. It's possible that the Kings remain undecided.

It's a forgone conclusion that the Washington Wizards will open the draft by selecting Kentucky guard sensation John Wall, and that almost all the following 6-7 choices will be big men. Apart from that, club uncertainty and trade rumors render everything else seemingly up for grabs.

Some of those trade rumors involve the Kings, most prominently involving Hedo Turkoglu. The small forward has openly expressed a desire to return to the Kings (his first NBA team ) after a disappointing first season with the Toronto Raptors. The Kings seem reluctant, but if they do pull the trigger on this deal, the Raptors will likely seek either Casspi or Donte Greene as compensation. The Raptors are also openly shopping point guard Jose Calderon to various teams including the Kings, and the Spaniard would certainly provide an upgrade for Sacramento's attack.

Among the Kings' draft choices is DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky's mammoth center. Cousins has as much potential as Wall to be a future NBA star, but many teams including the Kings are scared away by attitude issues.

Assuming other teams take a pass on Cousins, Sacramento will face a King-sized dilemma, of going for a player with the ability to be either a franchise player or a huge headache, or a making a more conservative selection. The Kings seem to be leaning toward less talented and less risky options, such as small forwards Al-Farouq Aminu of Wake Forest and Wesley Johnson of Syracuse - if he's still available.

The addition of either one would cut seriously into Casspi's playing time. Aminu, who is exceptionally athletic and can fill either forward position, is highly coveted by the Detroit Pistons, who could be interested in working out a deal with the Kings. Johnson, who had a tremendous season for Syracuse, is a very solid scorer who should have a productive NBA career.

Except for a few stars, life in the NBA for players like Casspi resembles a segment of the "Survivors" series. His place with the Kings should be clearer in another week.



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