OAKLAND -- The Warriors, after waiting for months and getting exceedingly rare glimpses, would like to believe Omri Casspi arrived Monday night.
When the veteran forward signed a one-year contract last July, the Warriors expected a fundamentally sound offensive player whose 3-point shooting could provide floor spacing for their reserve unit. They didn’t expect much defense.
For nearly four months, Casspi, using constant motion to outwit defenders, has delivered only on the fundamentally sound offensive player component.
That’s why Casspi’s performance in the 57th game of the season, a 129-83 rout of the vastly inferior Phoenix Suns, was so encouraging -- and necessary for him to get playing time with the team’s second unit in meaningful games.
Starting at power forward for the injured Draymond Green, Casspi played 27 minutes and totaled a season-high 19 points, on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, with game-high 10 rebounds. Playing all 12 minutes of a garbage-time fourth quarter, he scored 11 points and boosted his plus-minus to plus-28 for the game.
The highlight, though, was Casspi draining a top-of-the-arc 3 pointer for his first triple since Dec. 14.
“He played amazing,” Stephen Curry said.
Casspi’s production was a welcome sight for the Warriors inasmuch as they went into the trade deadline actively seeking someone who could provide what they hoped they’d get from Casspi.
Even now, the Warriors continue to monitor the buyout market for someone capable of giving them what they anticipated from 29-year-old Israel.
“I felt like the guys found me early with some easy ones to get going,” Casspi said. “I put a lot of effort into spacing the floor more and shooting more 3s. (Media) come to practice. You guys see me all the way in the corner trying to shoot a lot more, get back into being more of what I used to do. Add that to cutting and moving also. I’m trying. On the run, on the fly, it’s been tough, but it is what it is. It’s part of the game, and I’m happy coach trusted me to go out there and compete. It felt good.”
The Warriors have accepted that Casspi’s defense is a liability and this his minutes depend on matchups and timing. They have to pick their spots to play him, and pick very, very carefully if he’s not spacing the floor and scoring.
“I’ve hardly played him, through no fault of his own,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He just hasn’t had much of chance. I think it’s great for Omri to have a night like tonight and Nick Young to get extended minutes.”
Casspi has played in 44 games, with seven starts. He has, due to a variety of minor ailments, gone as many as three consecutive games without getting a second of action.
As the Warriors approach home stretch, general manager Bob Myers needs to know if there is a place for Casspi. Kerr and his staff need to know. Casspi’s teammates need to know.
“He obviously rebounded the ball well, shot well from the floor, was aggressive and took advantage of Draymond’s absence,” Curry said. “So he’s obviously a very smart player. And when he has those opportunities to just play off of the other four guys that are out there on the floor that’s when he’s at his best.”
The Warriors still don’t know for sure if Casspi will be useful in the postseason, which is why Myers hasn’t abandoned thoughts of a roster change in the coming weeks.
Casspi, however, gave everyone something to think about on Monday night.