Israel's Gal Mekel scores two points in the EuroBasket competition..
(photo credit: ISRAEL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION)
A procedural delay in securing a new visa seemed likely to thwart Gal Mekel’s expected move to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.
After less than a week as a free agent, Mekel looked to have found a new home in the NBA in Indiana.
The 26-year-old Israeli, who was released by the Dallas Mavericks last week, also drew interest from Oklahoma City according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, before ultimately coming to an agreement with the injury-hit Pacers.
Indiana flew Mekel to Boston on Wednesday in anticipation of signing him, but procedural issues could delay the Israeli from securing a new visa until Friday, potentially forcing the Pacers to sign a different player.
Indiana’s backcourt is currently without the injured Rodney Stuckey (foot), George Hill (knee) and C.J. Watson (foot), with Paul George suffering a potentially season-ending compound leg fracture in August.
Indiana obtained a hardship waiver from the league which allows teams to add new players if they have four roster players out with injuries for at least two weeks.
Indiana’s hardship waiver expired at midnight on Thursday.
Mekel could have an immediate opportunity to prove his worth off the bench in Indiana, with Donald Sloan, who is starting at point guard in place of Hill, averaging 36.0 minutes per game so far this season.
Mekel, who received $1.76 million he was due over the next two seasons from the Mavs after clearing waivers last Friday, impressed when given the chance in pre-season. However, with the Mavs adding J.J. Barea to a roster which already included point guards Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton, 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 knee surgery he underwent in mid-January.
Meanwhile, Omri Casspi continued his excellent start to the season with the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, finishing with 11 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes in a 131-109 home victory over the Denver Nuggets. The Kings recorded their fourth straight victory, building on their surprisingly strong start to the season to improve to 4-1. The 26-year-old Israeli forward has been one of Sacramento’s most important players off the bench, averaging 8.0 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 19 minutes per game, while making his biggest contribution on the defensive end.