Former Mavs and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel has signed with Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod, the team announced (translation via Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). The Pacers and Wizards are among the teams with interest in signing him for next season, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter), since he has an NBA escape clause that will allow him to shake loose this summer, as David Pick of Eurobasket.com reports (Twitter link). The contract otherwise runs through 2016, the team says, but it wouldn’t force Mekel or any NBA team to pay a buyout if he decided to end the deal this summer, Stein points out in his tweet.
Pick reported Monday that a deal was close, though Hapoel Jerusalem in Mekel’s native Israel made a strong effort to sign him late in the running, Stein adds (Twitter link). Mekel had been waiting for an NBA deal since the Pelicans cut him loose after a brief December stint. Coach Monty Williams wouldn’t rule out a new deal between the Pelicans and the 26-year-old shortly after his release, but no such arrangement materialized.
It’s no surprise to see the Pacers once more linked to Mekel, since Indiana reportedly would have signed him in November if it weren’t for visa-related complications. The Thunder have apparently held interest in him in the past, and he reportedly worked out for the Lakers twice earlier this season. He’s been drawing money from the Mavericks this season and will continue to do through 2017/18, since Dallas waived him before opening night and used the stretch provision on the second of the two years remaining on his contract.