Israeli point guard Gal Mekel has reached an oral agreement with the Dallas Mavericks on a three-year contract to be paid the league's minimum salary, ESPN reported Monday. The Maccabi Haifa star would become the second Israeli in the NBA after Omri Casspi.
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Since Monday, NBA teams have been allowed to negotiate with players in free agency, but contract signings can only start July 10.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Mavericks are still pursuing free agent center Dwight Howard, for whom they hope to save every dollar they can. Stein is considered one of the network’s most reliable commentators.
The fact Mekel is prepared to join at minimum salary has apparently helped his chances. Mekel would become the second Israeli in the league after Casspi, a small forward who has played two years for the Sacramento Kings and two years for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Casspi is also a free agent.
Mekel, who trained with NBA teams almost immediately after winning the Israeli Basketball Super League championship last season with Maccabi Haifa, left an excellent impression during a training session with the Milwaukee Bucks. Last week, he trained in Dallas.
With the Mavs, Mekel would fill a vacuum. Point guard Darren Collison, who started 47 games for Dallas last season, isn't expected to return, nor is another guard, Rodrigue Beaubois.
Mekel has experience playing in the United States; he played two years of college ball at Wichita State.