11:04am: The move is official, the team announced via press release. The statement didn’t make any mention of a corresponding transaction.
9:39am: The Pelicans are releasing Gal Mekel, sources tell David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Pick indicates that the team has already waived the Israeli point guard, though New Orleans has yet to make an official announcement. The team is hoping that Mekel clears waivers, according to Pick. That would seem to suggest that the club intends to re-sign him should he become a free agent, though that’s just my speculation, and it’s not clear if Mekel’s release would be related to any other transaction. He’d signed a non-guaranteed two-year deal for the minimum salary earlier this month. His subtraction would leave the Pelicans with 14 players, one shy of the maximum.
New Orleans reportedly inquired about Jeff Green lately, and there are conflicting reports about whether the team is ready to move some of its core players, though another dispatch from a few weeks ago pitted them as having been aggressive in trade talks. Dispensing with Mekel would give the team a measure of flexibility to make an unbalanced swap, but unless a move is imminent, it wouldn’t make sense for the Pelicans to part ways with Mekel if they still found him a worthwhile part of the club.
There would seemingly be a decent chance that another team would claim him off waivers, since visa issues were apparently the only stumbling block that kept him from signing with the Pacers earlier this season, he worked out for the Lakers, and the Thunder have reportedly held interest in him, too. The Mavs, Mekel’s original team, have an open roster spot following the Rajon Rondo trade.
The 26-year-old has seen 10.8 minutes per game in four appearances with New Orleans, averaging 1.5 points, 3.3 assists and 0.5 turnovers per contest. The Pelicans are relatively thin at the point behind Jrue Holiday, as rookie Russ Smith is the only other pure point guard on the team. They also possess combo guards Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and Austin Rivers.