We told you this was coming but now it is official:
Gal Mekel has signed on as a backup point guard with the New Orleans Pelicans, the team announced Friday. He will be in uniform on Saturday when the Pelicans take on the Clippers.
This is a non-guaranteed two-year deal according to Marc Stein of ESPN, meaning Mekel has to stick on the roster past Jan. 10 to be guaranteed a salary for the rest of this season. The second year is also not guaranteed.
The Pelicans give most of their point guard minutes to Jrue Holiday, with Austin Rivers getting the key backup minutes (and playing a little at both guard spots). Makel will battle Jimmer Fredette for the limited third point guard minutes.
Mekel, out of Israel, played for Dallas last season but was buried on the bench (behind Jose Calderon andDevin Harris). Mekel is a classic pass-first point guard who does some things well like coming off the pick-and-roll and being able to find teammates. The questions about him are his shooting (he really struggled with that in Dallas), which allows teams to go under picks, as well as his ability to defend NBA point guards.
Indiana tried to sign Mekel a couple of weeks back but were under a deadline due to a roster exception spot being about to expire and Mekel couldn’t get a work visa within the 24 hours needed (it often takes 72 hours). Although apparently that was not the problem in the Big Easy.
The New Orleans Pelicans signed forward Dante Cunningham earlier in the day on Thursday, but they might not be done making moves. According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, they’re also closing in on Israeli point guard Gal Mekel.
Mekel played for the Mavericks last season, but was waived before the season started to clear a roster spot for J.J. Barea. He was on the Pacers’ radar before they eventually signed A.J. Price. In his rookie season in Dallas, Mekel averaged 2.4 points and 2 assists per game in 31 games.
You’ve got to feel for Israeli born Gal Mekel, who got waived by Dallas at the end of training camp but due to injuries to George Hill and C.J. Watson was going to get his shot in Indiana. Except there ended up being work visa issues — he can’t get a new visa until Friday and the roster exemption the league granted the Pacers expires today. So he’s out.
One man’s problems can be another’s opportunity.
Enter A.J. Price, who will sign with the Pacers, reports Marc Stein of ESPN Sports.
Price was a former second round pick of the Pacers who spent three seasons with the team starting in 2009, then bounced to Washington and Minnesota the past couple seasons. Price was in camp with the Cavaliers but was waived before he played in a regular season game for them (they brought in Will Cherry to replace him).
The reason for all the bouncing around is Price is supposed to be a three-point specialist (more than half his shots came from there the past two seasons) but he shot 27.3 percent from beyond the arc last year and is a career 32.1 percent. That’s not good enough. Aside that he’s just kind of a placeholder — he’s not really bad at anything, he takes care of the ball, but he doesn’t really create anything or have a great NBA skill.
He’ll get the chance to prove that assessment wrong in Indiana, where they are thin at the point guard spot (Donald Sloan starts, and he put up 31 on John Wall and the Wizards Wednesday, but there is no real backup right now).
Gal Mekel, waived by the Mavericks, planned to sign with the Pacers in order to fill Indiana’s massive void at point guard.
George Hill, C.J. Watson and Rodney Stuckey are all injured. Donald Sloan played 43 minutes last night.
Yeah, it’s desperate.
But there’s a hitch with Mekel.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
That the Pacers are so desperate for Mekel speaks to their larger problems.
At 1-4, they’re about as bad as expected with Lance Stephenson in Charlotte and Paul George injured. Their season is not over, but it’s on the way toward irreparable.
I understand Mekel is the Pacers’ top choice in free agency, but he’s not irreplaceable. If Indiana needs to sign someone else – Will Bynum? John Lucas? A.J. Price? – it wouldn’t be the end of the world. The key is providing Sloan some relief and biding time until Hill and Watson return.
That probably won’t be enough to keep the Pacers in the playoff picture as the season progresses, but it’s their only chance.
The Pacers are without George Hill (knee) and C.J. Watson (foot), which has left a lot of Donald Sloan and a rough start for Indiana (in a season that was already going to be pretty rough).
Now the Pacers are about to sign a little help.
Indiana is going to sign former Maverick Gal Mekel, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.
Mekel, out of Israel, was buried on the Dallas bench last season (behind Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and plus they had Shane Larkin), but Indiana could be a good fit for him.
Mekel has a good handle and is smart about coming off the pick-and-roll and being able to find teammates. Frank Vogel likes to run a lot of pick-and-roll. Hence the fit. Mekel is a classic point guard.
The questions about him are his shooting (he really struggled with that in Dallas), which allows teams to go under picks and dare him to shoot, and his ability to defend NBA point guards.
Mekel may or may not be much of an answer in Indiana, but it’s about the best option they’ve got.