Gal Mekel of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the hoop against the Orlando Magic.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gal Mekel was set to make his debut for the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night, a day after signing a two-year non-guaranteed contract with the NBA franchise.
The 26-year-old Israeli guard was released by the Dallas Mavericks over a month ago, but remained in the US and continued to practice with his personal trainer in the hope that he would soon receive another offer from the NBA.
Mekel was on the verge of joining the Indiana Pacers last month before the deal was thwarted due to a visa delay and also went through a try-out with the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, the Pelicans were the ones who ultimately secured his signature on Friday. New Orleans can release Mekel before January 10 without compensation, while the second year on his contract is also a team option.
Mekel will be aiming to establish himself as the Pelicans’ main backup point guard behind starter Jrue Holiday. New Orleans entered Saturday with an 8-9 record and is considered to be one of the rising forces in the league, led by All-Star Anthony Davis.
Mekel, who was already available to play in Saturday’s game against the Clippers in Los Angeles, impressed when given the chance in pre-season with the Mavs. However, he was the odd man out in Dallas following the addition of J.J. Barea.
He only took part in a total of 31 games last season, registering averages of 2.4 points and 2.0 assists per contest. He played a little more than four minutes in total over the final three months of last season, in large part due to the knee surgery he underwent in mid-January.
Mekel appeared in all eight of Dallas’ 2014 preseason games (two starts), averaging 7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists.