Dallas Mavericks guard Gal Mekel welcomed his assignment to the Texas Legends of the D-League as he steps up his recovery from knee surgery.
The Israeli rookie, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Tuesday, missed the Mavs' past 21 games after undergoing surgery in mid-January to repair the meniscus in his right knee.
Mekel, who had averaged 2.4 points and 2.1 assists in 30 games prior to the injury, didn’t fly with the team to Denver on Tuesday and will play instead for the Frisco-based Texas Legends over the next few days.
"A few games with the Legends will be very good for me," Mekel said. "First of all, it will allow me to see that everything is fine with the knee and of course it will help me build up my fitness. My main goal right now is to regain my sharpness with the Legends and right after that to return to the team, fight for playing time and help the team in the run-up to the playoffs."
Mekel is raring to go after his recuperation took longer than expected.
"I'm really happy to be back to full activity after the injury," he said. "I feel good and I'm really desperate to get back to the court. The recovery process took a little longer than I thought it would, but you need to be patient with these types of injuries."
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle stressed that Mekel's move to the Legends is only temporary.
"Mekel is going to stay here and he is going to be assigned to the D-League for a couple of games," Carlisle said before the team left for Denver. "He's done with his rehab, he's had some live practices, so it's time for him to get some game minutes, to continue with his rehab.
"I just want to make clear this is an opportunity for him to continue his rehab and conditioning and he's done very well to this point.''