Israel coach: Mavericks are putting Gal Mekel in ‘impossible situation’

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NBA free agency continues to cause international incidents.

Gal Mekel, the Israeli point guard who signed with the Mavericks earlier this month, will not be participating in EuroBasket this fall, and Israel coach Arik Shivek is not pleased.

Shivek, via Allon Sinai of The Jerusalem Post:

“Mekel told me that he was put in a room with General Manager Donnie Nelson and all the coaches and they told him that as a rookie he would have a better chance of playing more minutes at the start of the season if he takes part in the preliminary training camp as well as the final camp,” Shivek said.

“I was very surprised and so was Gal. Mekel then put Donnie Nelson on the phone, who I know from his time in Europe, and I told him what I thought of what they are doing to Gal. I think they are not being fair and are putting him in an impossible situation.”

This should have been cleared up before Mekel signed. He has every right to play for Israel, and he has every right to play for the Mavericks. He just might not have the right to do both at once.

The timing of EuroBasket isn’t catching anyone by surprise, and both Mekel and the Mavericks should have created a plan before he signed. If he didn’t like their terms, he didn’t have to sign. And they didn’t like his terms, they didn’t have to sign him.

And maybe that actually happened.

Sinai:

Despite Shivek’s claims, Mekel took full responsibility for his decision not to play for Israel this summer.

“I understood that in order to have a good rookie season I need to get to Dallas early and work according to the team’s program,” Mekel said. “I really love the national team, but I came to the conclusion that if I want to remain an NBA player for many years, then my rookie season is very important.

I don’t know whether Shivek has the full story, but of course he’d want Mekel on his team. It’s possible, regardless of what Mekel told Shivek, Mekel just prefers to join the Mavericks sooner, anyway.

Mekel, depending how Dallas fills out its roster, has a real shot become the backup point guard behind Jose Calderon. Shane Larkin is in the mix, and Monta Ellis could slide over from shooting guard to steal minutes at the one.

As an unproven rookie, every bit of training camp will help Mekel’s case.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.