Mavs introduce Mekel in Dallas

Mekel becomes second Israeli in the NBA, joining Omri Casspi, after agreeing to a 3-year deal with the Mavs last week.

July 11, 2013 00:08
2 minute read.
Gal Mekel

Gal Mekel370. (photo credit: Uzi Zitiat)

In typical style, Gal Mekel was looking forward to working hard in training when he was officially introduced as a Dallas Mavericks player on Wednesday.

Mekel became the second Israeli in the NBA, joining Omri Casspi, after agreeing to a three-year deal with the Mavs last week.

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The deal could only be announced on Wednesday when the NBA’s annual moratorium on signings and trades was lifted and the 25-year-old guard was visibly excited when he spoke, sitting between his new coach Rick Carlisle and fellow rookie Shane Larkin.

“Since I got here two days ago it has been an unbelievable experience for me,” said Mekel. “Last night I had a great dinner with coach Carlisle and I don’t take it for granted that he took me out on my first night in town. I can’t wait for the summer league to start and work my way up.”

Carlisle said that he thought Mekel was “young enough to be a good player and get better” and the Israeli, who was given number 33, was confident of making the step-up to the NBA.

“I think that in every stage of your career you face a new challenge and you have to make an adjustment,” he explained. “I’m sure I’ll have to adjust to a few things here.

Definitely the speed and athleticism is different in the NBA than in Europe.

“But the fact that we play a lot of pick-and-roll in Europe can help me a lot. I told coach last night that I’m willing to learn. I’m a marathon runner.

With hard work results will come so I’m confident.”

Mavericks’ General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson explained some of the thought process behind the addition of Mekel.

“We’ve been tracking him for a while,” he said. “There aren’t many Israeli players that venture out and he was not only in the [United] States in college, but also had a nice experience in Benetton in Italy. Every step of the way he kept answering the bell. He’s got an impressive resume and his age is right.”

With Casspi to play for the Houston Rockets next season, the Texas derby between the Rockets and the Mavs will also be an historic derby between Israel’s first two representatives in the NBA.

“I know that all the people in Israel are very excited and I’m really proud that our country now has two players in the NBA,” said Mekel.

“Without me and Omri there’s a pretty good rivalry between Dallas and Houston and I’m sure that with us it will be even more interesting.

It will be a really good experience for our country.”

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