Israeli hoopster in limbo because of NBA lockout

NEW YORK, July 7 (JTA) — An Israeli point guard’s dreams of playing in the NBA have been put on hold by a labor dispute. Oded Katash opted out of his contract with the Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv this week in the hopes of signing with the New York Knicks. If his dream comes true, Katash would become the first Israeli to make it in U.S. professional basketball. The Knicks reportedly expressed interest in the 6-4 star after a workout last week, but are prevented from making any player moves because of the dispute between NBA players and owners. As a result of the dispute, the owners locked out the players on July 1. A spokeswoman for the Knicks said the lockout prevented her from commenting on Katesh or any other player moves. Katash’s departure leaves Maccabi Tel Aviv without one of its star players. Katash scored more than 20 points a game in the European League last season. Katash has also worked out with the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Clippers, two teams that had worse records than the Knicks last season. But the Knicks have been plagued by weak play at the point guard position. Several Israeli players have had tryouts with teams in the NBA, which has seen an increasing number of foreign players in recent years, but none has played in the regular season.

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