Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Casspi eyes Tony Parker's French team
By Marc Stein
The San Antonio Spurs would undoubtedly prefer to see them playing together in South Texas, but the prospect of Tony Parker and longtime Spurs favorite Omri Casspi teaming up in France is very much alive.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com on Monday that Casspi is giving strong consideration to signing with ASVEL in France's top division.
That's the same ASVEL club which claims Parker as a co-owner and as its vice president of basketball operations.
It initially appeared that Casspi -- after being dealt from Sacramento to Cleveland on June 30 in the final trade consummated in the NBA before the start of the July 1 lockout -- was a lock to play for perennial Euroleague power Maccabi Tel-Aviv in his native Israel in the event of the lockout bleeding into November or December.
But David Pick of Eurobasket.com reported earlier Monday that Casspi and Maccabi officials, after a sitdown, have mutually agreed that they would not be able to reach contract terms that both sides can stomach.
France isn't the only destination that Casspi -- coveted by the Spurs since he was drafted No. 23 overall by the Kings in 2009 -- is considering as a lockout alternative. Various reports in the Israeli media say he's drawn interest from clubs in Russia and Spain.
But ASVEL, situatated in the Lyon suburb of Villeurbanne, does have one clear advantage: Casspi and Parker share the same agent. They're both represented by CAA's Steven Heumann.
Last week in London on duty with the French national team, Parker told ESPN.com contributor Ian Whittell that he will play in his native France if he plays anywhere other than the NBA this season as opposed to seizing upon the interest Parker has generated from teams in China.
"My agent talked about China a little bit," Parker told Whittell. "... I'm not going to take any decision until the end of September, after the European Championships. I want to see if I'm healthy, if I'm hurt and by then we will also know a lot more what is happening with the situation of the lockout.
"If I play [abroad], I will definitely play in France, for my fans, for my team ASVEL."
As for the prospect of Casspi ultimately winding up alongside Parker in the French League, one source close to the situation said it really "might happen."
Casspi is currently nursing a injured left knee that threatens to knock him out of the European Championships (EuroBasket) later this month in Lithuania. Israel's only NBA player told reporters over the weekend that "right now my leg is in a bad state."