Mekel to decide future in coming days

Hap Jerusalem seemingly the front runner to sign the Israeli guard who continues to hold out for an NBA offer.

NBA free-agent Gal Mekel  (photo credit: TNS)
NBA free-agent Gal Mekel
(photo credit: TNS)
Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv will face off for the first title of the season in the State Cup final on Sunday night, but in the meantime they continue to battle for the services of Gal Mekel.
The 26-year-old Israeli guard has been without a team for the past two months after being cut by the New Orleans Pelicans. He is still hopeful of receiving another chance in the NBA this season, but if none arrives in the days following Thursday’s trade deadline, Mekel is set to return to Israel or Europe at least until the end of the season.
Mekel played just four games for New Orleans, averaging 1.5 points and 3.3 assists over 10.9 minutes of action. He spent over a month as a free agent following his release by the Dallas Mavericks at the start of the season, and has played a mere total of 44 minutes in 2014/15.
Mekel, who only took part in 31 games in his rookie season in Dallas, was always confident he would find another landing spot in the NBA, but nothing materialized.
The recent report connecting Mekel with a move to Unics Kazan in Russia proved to be no more than pure speculation, but he does have several offers from Europe on the table, as well as those from Jerusalem and Maccabi.
Jerusalem is currently considered to be the front runner for Mekel’s services, with Hapoel willing to include an NBA exit clause in his contract.
Meanwhile, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s BSL game against Bnei Herzliya was postponed yet again on Wednesday.
The encounter was previously moved by a single day to Monday after the cup final at the Jerusalem Arena had to be rescheduled from Thursday to next Sunday due to the stormy weather expected in capital.
However, Maccabi threatened it would play without its starters should it be forced to face Herzliya less than 24 hours after the cup final and the BSL agreed to postpone the game once more, this time to Saturday, February 28. As a result, Herzliya’s game against Maccabi Haifa was moved forward to the upcoming Monday.
Elsewhere Wednesday, Dan Shamir was sacked as the coach of Hapoel Eilat, being replaced by former Israel national team boss Arik Shivek.
Eilat was thrashed 97-65 by Jerusalem in the cup semis on Monday. The team sits in seventh place in the BSL standings with a 9-10 record.
Eilat had won three straight league games before dropping to an 89-86 defeat to Hapoel Holon last week after which Shamir nearly came to blows with club chairman Moti Amsalem.
Shivek hasn’t coached an Israeli club since leaving Hapoel Tel Aviv in 2002, guiding teams in the Netherlands and Belgium while also coaching the blue-and-white national team between 2009 and 2014.
“I’m happy to be back in Eilat,” said Shivek, who coached the club between 1990 and 1993. “This team has good potential but hasn’t managed to gel so far.”