11:35am: Real Madrid has a team option on Mejri for next season, though various Spanish media reports have suggested there’s a decent chance the team will turn down that option, according to Sierra. Mejri is pleased with the club, but he would rather leave if he won’t see playing time, Sierra writes. The Cavs first reached out to the big man’s representatives in December, and though a high-dollar buyout clause kept the talks from getting far at that time, Cleveland has remained in contact, Sierra hears.
9:47am: The Cavs are indeed interested in Real Madrid center Salah Mejri, Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype tweets, confirming an earlier report from Chema de Lucas of Gigantes Del Basket. Mejri, his agent and Cavs director of pro player personnel Koby Altman dined together and Altman watched the 7’1″ native of Tunisia in action, reports David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter links).
Mejri went undrafted in 2008, so no NBA team holds his rights in any sort of draft-and-stash arrangement. He reportedly was to work out for the Mavericks in 2012, and he saw summer league action with the Jazz the same year. Mejri seemingly continued to draw NBA interest in 2013, but he remained zeroed in on Europe. A lack of playing time has helped keep his numbers low. His overseas production doesn’t paint a picture of an intriguing prospect, and while that’s often the case with European players drawing the eye of NBA teams, who focus instead on upside, Mejri is 28 and turns 29 in June. He’s put up 4.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.8 blocks in just 9.8 minutes per game.
Cleveland has a full 15-man roster, with each player signed through at least the end of the season, so presumably the apparent interest in Mejri is geared toward next season. The Cavs have only about $26MM in commitments for 2015/16, but that doesn’t include salary for four of their five starters, including LeBron James. There’s a strong chance Cleveland ends up above the tax apron, which would give the team only the $3.376MM taxpayer’s midlevel exception to spend above the minimum on outside free agents.