Gal Mekel of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the hoop against the Orlando Magic.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gal Mekel's future in the NBA faces another crucial day on Friday.
After officially being waived by the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, the 26-year-old Israeli guard will discover on Friday if another NBA team has claimed him off the waiver wire.
Teams have 48 hours to pick up the two remaining years on Mekel's contract before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Should he go unclaimed, Dallas will have to pay off the $1.76 million he is due over the next two seasons according to the guaranteed deal he signed last summer.
"It was great wearing this jersey for more than a year. Many memories and good times," Mekel wrote on Facebook. "I want to thank this great organization, city and fans but firstly the amazing people I've met here and I can call true friends. I still don't know where my next home-team is going to be but I'm super motivated and excited about the opportunities that will come. Thank you Dallas... Next stop?" Even should he fail to find a new NBA home, Mekel, who was waived by the Mavs to make room for the signing of J.J. Barea, does not plan to return to Europe or Israel. He said he will continue to work with his personal trainer in Florida and wait patiently for another opportunity in the NBA.
Mekel impressed when given the chance in pre-season. However, with the Mavs roster including point guards Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton, even before the addition of Barea, he was ultimately the odd man out.
Mekel only took part in a total of 31 games in the NBA 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 surgery he underwent to repair a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee in mid-January.
Mekel dropped so far down the rotation that he was twice sent for short stints at the Mavs's NBDL affiliate, the Texas Legends, and played no part in Dallas's first round playoff loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
He showed some promising form in the Summer League and pre-season, only to eventually be cut.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban spoke to Mekel for more than an hour to explain the situation. “I just told him the exact truth," Cuban said.
"We told him this is what might happen. Here is the options we have.
What’s the best option for you in your mind? I wanted to be very communicative with him because he earned it. I have a lot of respect for Gal. He’s been our most improved player in training camp, and I wanted to be completely transparent with him.
“He had a great summer,” Cuban added. “But the problem is everybody’s in love with their team right now.”
“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."