The two guys who played the least (of anyone who played, anyway) in Wednesday's opener against the Hawks did so for different reasons. Jae Crowder played 9 minutes because after a year of consistent PT, his clock is running out. Gal Mekel played 9 because he is getting a cautious tryout.
For now, everyone's saying the right things. The coaches are talking about how hard he's working, and so is he. And there's the numbers issue: Mekel is going to be the backup point guard of the Mavericks until Devin Harris gets healthy or until Carlisle can't stand it any more.
The problem is, it's an open question how long that will take. It certainly looks like Mekel can make the passes to be a competent backup point. He's had 6+ in 5 preseason games, and he had 3 in his 9 minutes against the Hawks. The problem is, he only had one game-and it wasn't against the Hwaks-where his assists beat out his turnovers in anything like impressive fashion.
Considering the state of his offense, which at this point consists entirely of a somewhat effective floater (Mekel was 17 for 50 in the preseason, an impressive 34% from the field), it's not exactly the profile of someone who, at this point, seems likely to stick in the NBA.
Now, Mekel will be given time, probably in increments like the one against the Hawks. With Calderon and Ellis both capable of playing the point, and possibly better off, at times, not playing together, they only need Mekel to keep them under 40 minutes a night. Presumably that 5-10 minute window will continue to last even after Larkin is ready since few coaches want to play a rookie who hasn't had any training camp, and Rick Carlisle certainly isn't among those few.
But if Mekel wants to keep playing when Harris is ready, it's hard to know what has to happen for him. It's not overly likely his offensive game will improve dramatically soon so it'll come down to whether or not he can cut down on the turnovers.
It's pretty likely down the road that Calderon and Harris, when he gets back, will need some games off from time to time. They're not the most durable. It would be great to have Mekel be, at least, a safety valve by that point in the season. We'll see how it goes.