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VOL. 133 | NO. 132 | Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Sports Notebook: Casspi a Potential Help to Grizzlies With Outside Shooting

By Don Wade

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After the NBA Draft, Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace was asked what the team still needed. He didn’t hesitate with his answer: more shooting.

The Grizzlies’ reported signing of veteran forward Omri Casspi to a one-year contract, and for the veteran’s minimum, is their first move to try and address that need.

Casspi, 30, is a nine-year NBA veteran. He is well-traveled, and of his 552 career games only 145 have been starts. He played 53 games with Golden State last season, but the Warriors waived him ahead of their postseason run to the NBA title. He had an ankle injury last season and finished the year averaging 5.7 points per game but hitting 45.5 percent of his threes in limited opportunities.

The Memphis Grizzlies have signed veteran forward Omri Casspi, seen here dunking for the Golden State Warriors, for a one-year contract. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

For his career, the 6-foot-9, 225-pound Casspi averages 8.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while shooting 36.9 percent from 3-point range. Born is Israel, Casspi was the 23rd overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. His best season was in 2015-16 when he averaged 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Kings in 69 games, 21 of them starts. He made 40.9 percent of his threes that year.

No doubt, Casspi’s prime probably has come and gone. But he holds promise as a shooter on the second unit. Casspi’s signing does not impact the Grizzlies’ ability to sign a free agent with their mid-level exception.

But after a busy weekend headlined by LeBron James signing a four-year, $153.3 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, teams were active and a lot of players were taken out of the pool. That includes former Memphis Tiger Will Barton, who returned to Denver on a four-year, $54 million contract.

Tyreke Evans remained unsigned as of this writing, but the level of interest on both sides is an open question. Guard Avery Bradley, who played with the L.A. Clippers last season and has averaged 12.3 points per game and 36.6 percent shooting from distance in seven NBA seasons, also was believed to be a Memphis target.

Three Redbirds selected for PCL All-Star Team

Pitchers Dakota Hudson and Daniel Poncedeleon and third baseman Patrick Wisdom have been chosen to represent the Memphis Redbirds at the PCL All-Star Team in a game against International League All-Stars on July 11 in Columbus, Ohio.

Hudson will make the start for the PCL All-Stars. In 15 starts this year, Hudson led the PCL with an 11-2 record and had a 2.10 earned run average. Poncedeleon, in 16 games (15 of them starts) was 7-3 with a 2.57 ERA and was tied for second in the league with 91 strikeouts.

Wisdom was batting .299 with 12 home runs and 48 runs batted in over 76 games. He had a .375 on-base percentage.

Lausanne running back chooses Michigan

Eric Gray, who set a Shelby-Metro record with 45 touchdowns last season while leading Lausanne to a second straight state championship, announced on Twitter that he will be going to Michigan to play football for Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines.

Gray, who is 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, rushed for 3,151 yards and won the state of Tennessee’s Mr. Football Award. Alabama and Ole Miss reportedly were among the SEC schools that had interest in Gray.

Gray is in the class of 2019. His verbal commitment is nonbinding.

Tim Tebow on way to The Show?

With the New York Mets having a miserable season and Tim Tebow making strides as a professional hitter, the former Heisman Trophy winner may be setting a path for a September call-up.

Tebow was named to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star team. Through 67 games for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (yes, that’s really their name) he had 12 doubles, five home runs and 30 RBI with a .261 batting average. The Double-A All-Star Game is July 11 in Trenton, New Jersey.

Tebow, 30, had a hot June, hitting .318. He’s in his third season of playing professional baseball and now has a .236 career batting average with 13 homers and 82 RBI and 215 strikeouts in 648 at-bats.

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