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PHOENIX The Warriors sensed they would eventually have this conversation. After all, the Warriors had a thin backcourt, became encouraged with Quinn Cooks development and remained aware of Omri Casspis tenuous health.
So when the Warriors waived Casspi on Saturday to make room for Cook on the teams playoff roster, the Warriors hardly went through too many deliberations.
It actually wasnt a difficult decision because he was injured, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Casspi, who had missed the past 10 games with a sprained right ankle.
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But when it came time for the Warriors to deliver the news to Casspi following Saturdays loss to New Orleans? That became a different story.
It was difficult to go ahead and go through with it because he has been with us for all season long, Kerr said. We love Omri and what he brought to the team a great teammate. It was difficult to sit with him and tell him we were going to do this.
The Warriors made their decision on Saturday so Casspi had time to clear waivers. Though he cannot play with any playoff team, any team that signs him would have his Bird Rights when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in July.
As for the Warriors decision to cut Casspi? There are a few reasons.
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The Warriors considered it important to add Cook to the playoff roster because of injuries to Stephen Curry (MCL sprain in left knee) and Patrick McCaw (bruised bone near spine). It became unclear if Casspi could ever return after an MRI showed inflammation in his right ankle, which caused Casspi discomfort to run or cut. Although the Warriors have a handful of frontcourt players in Zaza Pachulia, JaVale McGee, Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell, Kerr remains intent on using all of those players in the postseason depending on matchups.
Though the Warriors have seen inconsistent results from Nick Young, they are mindful he signed with the team to a $5.2 million deal and could catch a hot shooting streak during the postseason. Though the Warriors are without McCaw for at least four more weeks, the Warriors wanted to retain their ability to match any offer sheet he might receive as a restricted free agent in July. Meanwhile, the 29-year-old Casspi signed with the Warriors last summer on a veterans minimum deal.
It was the only decision we could make under the circumstances. We have to have Quinn for the playoffs, Kerr said. We couldnt release anybody else. Everybody else is healthy, playing and/or under contract or team control for next year in Patricks Case. This is the decision we had to come to. It wasnt fun. But the main thing is that Omri is just a pro and a great teammate. He handled it beautifully.
Kerr viewed Casspis game the same way. Though he became increasingly reluctant to shoot 3-pointers, Casspi averaged 5.7 points on 58 percent shooting in 14 minutes through 53 games. In seven games as a starter, Casspi averaged 11.9 points on 58.6 percent shooting and 7.1 rebounds in 26.4 minutes per contest.
Hes a great cutter. Hes a wonderful fit in our system. Thats why we recruited him, Kerr said. When he was right and got to start some games when we had some injuries, he had some really good games for us. Hes a victim of circumstance more than anything.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have seen Cook benefit from his circumstances. He has averaged 14.7 points on 50 percent shooting, 4.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 32.3 minutes per game as a starter. Cook has reached double figures for 13 consecutive games. And he has scored at least 20 points in five contests.
I dont think anybody could have foreseen him scoring 20 points per game multiple times, Kerr said. We knew he could play. We knew were lucky when we got him on the two–way deal.
When the Warriors did that, they became judicious on how they used him. Per the terms of a two-way contract, the Warriors could have Cook either practice or play in games for a combined 45 days, while spending the rest of his team with their G-League team in Santa Cruz.
I dont know what we wouldve done without the two-way rule, Kerr said. Were thrilled we have Quinn. This year was so crazy with the injuries. Had we not had the two-way, I really honestly dont know what we wouldve done.