Mekel needs to make a decision one way or another

Everything seemed to be in place for the 27-year-old point guard to shine on the NBA stage, but time and again, his hopes disintegrated in heartbreaking fashion.

July 1, 2015 03:46
3 minute read.
Gal Mekel

Gal Mekel of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the hoop against the Orlando Magic. (photo credit: REUTERS)

It is a situation Gal Mekel has become accustomed to over the past year. Working out and waiting. The Israeli guard is not short of options. Nevertheless, he is once more without a team.

After getting a taste of life in the NBA, Mekel refuses to give up on the dream. He ended up sitting out more than two months during the past season in the hope of receiving an offer to return to the NBA. He ultimately signed with BC Nizhny Novgorod of Russia in late February when it became apparent that his patience might prove to be in vain.

After less than four months at Nizhny, Mekel returned to the open market and he is currently training in Florida with the aim of landing a new NBA deal this summer. Mekel has a standing three-year offer from Maccabi Tel Aviv, with Hapoel Jerusa - lem also desperate to secure his signature. However, he is biding his time, unwilling to move on.

Following Monday’s news that Hapoel Jerusalem will not play in the Euroleague next season, reports surfaced that Mekel has chosen to join Maccabi. But Mekel still believes he is NBA-bound and he will not sign a contract with the yellow-and-blue at the moment unless it allows him to leave for the NBA any time this summer.

It all looked so promising for Mekel on several occasions over the past year. Everything seemed to be in place for the 27-year-old point guard to shine on the NBA stage, but time and again, his hopes disintegrated in heartbreaking fashion.

Mekel entered last season with two guaranteed years remaining on his contract with the Dallas Mavericks and was in a confident mood after impressing when given the opportunity in preseason. How - ever, the addition of J.J. Barea to a roster which already included three point guards meant he was the odd man out.

The Mavs were full of praise for Mekel after releasing him, something which would become a recurring theme.

“The future is very bright for Gal,” said Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. “He’s got a big upside and is developing ahead of schedule. We wouldn’t have even considered this move if it weren’t for the unlikely scenario where a player of J.J.’s caliber was available.”

Mekel, who only took part in a total of 31 games in his rookie season in large part due to the knee surgery he underwent in January 2014, remained upbeat nevertheless. He received the $1.76 million Dallas owed him over the next two seasons after clearing waivers and knew he had several suitors in the league.

After less than a week as a free agent, Mekel looked to have found a new home in the NBA in Indiana. However, a procedural delay in secur - ing a new visa thwarted his expected move to the depleted Pacers. Mekel had selected Indiana over the injury-hit Okla - homa City as he believed he would receive a bigger role on the team, but ended up empty-handed.

Mekel ultimately spent over a month as a free agent. He practiced with his personal trainer in Florida in the meantime, before securing a deal with the New Orleans Pelicans at the beginning of December. The Pelicans signed him to a two-year non-guaranteed contract but just two weeks after joining New Orleans, Mekel found himself on the waiver wire once more.

New Orleans head coach Monty Williams was of course extremely complementary of Mekel’s capabilities.

“We thought he did a good job, [but] there are some particulars financially that I am not going to discuss,” he explained. “We like [Mekel] a lot. He was a positive for our team.”

One way or another, Mekel will have to make his move soon. Maccabi won’t wait forever and he may not find out if he has an offer from the NBA until shortly before the start of the 2015/16 regular season in late October.

Mekel has hit a crucial crossroads, and this time, he has to make a decision. Working out and waiting will no longer do

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