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.
“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.
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.