SACRAMENTO -- Reinforcements are on their way. When media entered the Sacramento Kings practice facility on Tuesday afternoon, veteran forward Omri Casspi was mixing it up in a halfcourt game of 3-on-3.
Casspi, 28, has missed the last 12 games for the Kings with a right plantaris tendon strain and was expected to be out until after the All-Star break. That timeline now appears to be in flux.
“It feels better and hopefully tomorrow it won’t be as sore,” Casspi said. “Hopefully I’m aiming for the Friday night’s game.”
Before the injury, Casspi was in and out of the rotation. He had just started to get playing time again when he injured himself at practice and had to undergo an MRI.
“It’s frustrating, but it is what it is,” Casspi said following practice. “I’m trying to look at in a positive perspective. The first few days I got hurt it was really hard on me, but at this point I’m trying to get healthy as fast as I can and come back to help the team.”
Casspi’s numbers don’t jump off the page this season. He’s twice missed time due to illness and he’s logged just 22 of a potential 52 games on the year. But he was a reliable contributor under George Karl during the 2015-16 campaign, averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds while shooting 40.9 percent from long range.
If not for the injury, the eight-year NBA veteran would likely have been a key figure for Dave Joerger’s squad over the last few weeks with injuries to Rudy Gay and Garrett Temple. With three wing players down, Matt Barnes and Arron Afflalo have seen an uptick in minutes, as has rookie Malachi Richardson and fourth-year man Ben McLemore.
Casspi is in the final year of his contract and will become an unrestricted free agent after the season. His ability to stay healthy down the stretch will help dictate how big of a contract he earns this summer, be it in Sacramento with the Kings or elsewhere.
Temple made an appearance at the practice as well on Tuesday. He worked on his shot from a stationary position while coaches fed him the ball. Temple is out until after the All-Star with a tear in his left hamstring.