Early this morning the Dallas Mavericks came to terms with their first free agent signing of the 2013 offseason, inking guard Gal Mekel to a multi year deal, according to ESPN's Marc Stein. The contract is for a league minimum salary, allowing Dallas to continue it's pursuit of Dwight Howard. According to Stein:
Mekel has made major progress since his days at Wichita State from 2006-2008 and increasingly appeals to NBA teams thanks to his size, ability to lead a team and, most of all, his pick-and-roll proficiency... Mekel was named MVP in Israel for the 2012-13 season after Haifa toppled Maccabi Tel Aviv for the Israeli Super League championship. It's his second MVP trophy in four pro seasons in Israel
Mekel also had interest from Milwaukee, Toronto, Atlanta, Indiana and Memphis, according to sources.
My favorite Jerusalem based NBA fan, Noam Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm, is excited for Mekel but has his some reservations, saying:
I don't think Mekel is good enough, but stylistically, he's more of an NBA player than a Euro player. So it makes sense to give him a shot.— Noam Schiller (@noamschiller) July 1, 2013
Also, Mekel is the kind of guy who could survive the Rick-Carlisle-torches-PGs camp. Or be killed by it.— Noam Schiller (@noamschiller) July 1, 2013
The key point in all of this is that the deal is for a league minimum. Whether or not Dallas gets Dwight Howard or any big name free agent, it will still have to fill out the roster with players. Taking a chance on a player with potential is the kind of thing Dallas must do if it ever hopes to regain it's lost footing in the Western Conference. Mekel seems like a bit of a long shot, but I bet much of the same thing was said about Brandan Wright when he first inked his two year deal with the Mavericks.
Dallas has to start somewhere, and though it won't make much of a splash it's a good move in the right direction.