- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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DeMarcus Cousins isn't the only young Sacramento King generating trade interest.
Stein Line HQ favorite Omri Casspi is also the subject of trade calls Sacramento is fielding, sources close to the situation say.
The major difference, of course, is that Cousins has been deemed an untouchable by the Kings while Casspi – depending on the quality of the offers – is a legit candidate to be moved before the Feb. 24 trading deadline.
Among the teams that have registered interest in the NBA’s first-ever Israeli: Chicago and New York.
The Bulls, in particular, like Casspi not only for his ability to shoot but also his experience in pressure situations after playing at the highest levels of the Euroleague with Maccabi Tel-Aviv as well as his defensive potential, believing that the energetic swingman would develop nicely on D under the guidance of Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. The bonus: Casspi is shooting 40 percent from 3-point range this season – up from 36.9 percent as a rookie – to further squelch his pre-draft rep as a non-shooter.
Yet there are obstacles for interested parties. Casspi is also a favorite of Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. Sources say Sacramento, furthermore, would likely insist on attaching a long-term contract from the Kings' roster (such as Francisco Garcia's) for the right to acquire Casspi, who’s earning a bargain $1.25 million this season. That could dissuade both the Bulls and the Knicks, with New York especially mindful of preserving salary-cap space for the summer.
It’s likewise true, from the Bulls’ perspective, that Casspi would give them another shooter but can’t really be classified as a shooting guard, which is the position Chicago has been openly looking to upgrade with Ronnie Brewer and Keith Bogans as its current primary options.
The Chicago Tribune reported earlier this week that the Bulls have also expressed interested in Rockets guard Courtney Lee, who earns a similar salary ($1.35 million) to Casspi's. The shooting guards previously linked with Chicago – Denver’s J.R. Smith ($6.8 million), Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson (in the first season of a three-year, $28 million extension) and Memphis’ O.J. Mayo ($4.5 million) – have all been all pricier.
Sources say Kings forward Carl Landry, meanwhile, is “highly unlikely” to re-sign in Sacramento, increasing the likelihood that the Kings move the unhappy forward before the Feb. 24 trading deadline to guard against losing him without salvaging something from the trade that cost them Kevin Martin.
One source close to the situation said Landry, as a result, is the most likely King to be moved before the deadline.
Earning a modest $3 million in the final year of his current contract, Landry was a prime piece of the package that the Kings received last February when they sent Martin to Houston in a three-team deal that also landed Tracy McGrady in New York.
But Landry’s production has dipped dramatically from last season – when he quietly emerged as one of the most reliable fourth-quarter scorers in the league – while Martin (averaging 23.3 points and shooting 43.6 percent on 3s in just 31.5 minutes per game) is scoring with career-best efficiency in Houston.
DeMarcus Cousins isn't the only young Sacramento King generating trade interest.Stein Line HQ favorite Omri Casspi is also the subject of trade calls Sacramento is fielding, sources close to the situation say.