SACRAMENTO -- A shot flys from the left baseline, arching high towards the Golden 1 Center scoreboard before coming softly back down towards the rim. Nothing but net.
It was a familiar sight. One Kings fans became accustomed to not once, but twice. Omri Casspi was back in Sacramento, but he was wearing Warriors royal blue and golden yellow.
The 29-year-old forward signed with the champs over the summer to add a scoring punch off the bench. He’s averaging 6.4 points points in 15.6 minutes per game for the Warriors. When his number is called, the nine-year NBA vet has delivered, shooting a blistering 58.9 percent form the field and 50 percent form behind the arc.
Casspi left the Kings last season as part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. He played one game in New Orleans before breaking his thumb. Needing a roster spot, the Pelicans waived Casspi and he finished the season playing the final 13 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Following Warriors shootaround on Friday, we caught up with Casspi for a sit down.
JH: What a difference a year makes for you. Last year, you were struggling through a season here in Sacramento, had some injury issues. Now you find yourself in this incredible here with the Warriors. How blessed to do feel for this opportunity?
OC: It’s been great. When you’re going through a tough time, I always kept a positive mindset and believed that good things would happen. It’s been an amazing journey through ups and downs throughout my nine years, but I’m really feeling blessed to be in this position with these guys and this organization and this coaching staff. It’s just a fun place to be in. It’s a fun place to come to work everyday. It’s fun to play a game every night at a sold out arena. National TV every other game. It’s been great so far?
JH: Is this a perfect fit for your game, this Warriors team? It seems like it’s a really good fit.
OC: I always felt like in certain situations I can play better. I feel like 60-70 percent of the league, the players in league, have to fit in in the right situation for them to be successful. That’s a big chunk of the league. And I feel always that playing in a system where the ball is moving, guys are moving and bodies are moving and the egos are directed in the right direction can benefit me. Can benefit anybody in general, but it benefits my game.
JH: You learned from a pretty young age that you’ve got to fit in, that you have to find a role. That’s something we’ve discussed before, from your time with Kevin McHale (in Houston). Is that something you’ve carried forward and been able to apply?
OC: No doubt. Coming into this team isn’t easy as a free agent. The system and the coaching and everything around it is great, but at the same time, these are proven winners and they’ve done so well with their rotations, so it’s kind of a not easy thing to go into, but I always felt like I play hard, I’ll do the stuff that I do and play my game and good things will happen my way. Thanks God we have a great coaching staff. Steve (Kerr) is amazing. He’s just an amazing person to be around and an amazing basketball mind. It’s always fun to learn from him. The guys are selfless. They don’t care if you score or he scores or whatever - it’s all about the goal of winning and winning a championship. It’s a fun place to play basketball at.
JH: You are a two-time Sacramento King. I’m sure you have some good memories here, some great memories, some not so great memories. But you kind of grew up Sacramento. How is everything going with you off the court? A new baby, wife, everything else?
OC: It’s been great. Sacramento - we drove the bus yesterday, saw a lot of familiar places. It will always have a big part of my heart. I love Sacramento. I love the fans here. We always talk about, even us, even though this team struggled, they have such a strong fanbase and the fans here are great. It’s always fun to play here in Sacramento. As a King or as a competitor against the Kings. Everything has been great - wifey’s great, we have a little one and she’s been awesome. Life’s been good, thank God, I can’t complain.
JH: DeMarcus (Cousins), tragic. Where are you at with his injury? Have you talked to DeMarcus? What are your thoughts on something like that when you see it happen to a former teammate?
OC: That’s tough. It’s just tough. DeMarcus has been such a pro and found a good niche in New Orleans. It all seems like it’s going in the right direction and finally, DeMarcus would be in the playoffs and they would have a great run there. We talked, I texted him. I didn’t want to bother him, he probably got a ton of messages and stuff like that. Knowing DeMarcus, he probably took it hard the first day and then he’s back on the grind. I know he’ll be back strong, better. Just in a contract year for him and with the money that’s on the table for him, it’s kind of tough. At the same time, it’s basketball, it’s life, it is what it is. He’s a strong person and he’ll come back stronger.
JH: How much do you want that ring?
OC: (Smiling) A lot.