Gal Mekel

And-Ones: Dunleavy, Mekel, D-League

Bulls small forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., who underwent back surgery in September, suffered a “setback” and his timetable for a return to the court is unclear, coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters, including Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Dunleavy re-signed with Chicago during the summer. Hoiberg, per Friedell, said there isn’t concern at this time that Dunleavy will have to miss the entire season or have another procedure on his back.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Former Mavericks and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel has signed with European power-agent Misko Raznatovic, International Journalist David Pick tweets.
  • The Knicks have assigned Cleanthony Early to their D-League affiliate, the Westchester Knicks, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Early has only seen 24 minutes of NBA action this season.
  • The Cavs have recalled Joe Harris from the Canton Charge, the team’s D-League affiliate, according to a team press release. Harris appeared in three games during his latest stint, averaging 22.7 points in 36.9 minutes per game.
  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders takes a look at the league’s landscape so far this season and the Hawks are among his underachievers. Greene believes one major reason for the disappointing start is that Atlanta still hasn’t found an adequate replacement for DeMarre Carroll.

Will Joseph contributed to this post.

Gal Mekel Signs To Play In Serbia

WEDNESDAY, 7:46am: The signing is official, the team announced (on Twitter). “I’m excited to meet the best fans in Europe, win titles,” Mekel said, according to Pick (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 4:35pm: Former NBA guard Gal Mekel has signed a deal with the Serbian team Crvena Zvezda, international journalist David Pick reports (Twitter link). The pact is for two seasons and includes an NBA out clause, according to Pick.

Mekel appeared in four contests for the Pelicans last season, averaging 1.5 points, 0.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists in 10.8 minutes per contest before being waived by the team in December. The point guard then signed with Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod, and finished out the 2014/15 campaign playing overseas.

The 27-year-old had reportedly had contract talks with three NBA teams this offseason, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com noted back in July, but no NBA deal apparently materialized from those discussions.

And-Ones: Playoffs, Aldridge, Teletovic, Mekel

The NBA is leaning toward no longer guaranteeing a playoff spot to division winners, commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press observes. It would be one more step away from a divisional structure that long ago ceased to have much relevance on roster building, though Pelicans GM Dell Demps recently cited the preponderance of strong post players in the Southwest Division as he spoke about the team’s decision to re-sign Omer Asik. Here’s more from around the NBA:

  • LaMarcus Aldridge kept the Trail Blazers in the running for him right up until he committed to sign with the Spurs, as Aldridge said this week in an appearance on ESPN Radio’s The Russillo Show, as Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com relays. Aldridge also insisted that he didn’t exit Portland because of any jealousy toward Damian Lillard“We got along very well during the season,” Aldridge said. “I thought we played well off of each other. So, all of that stuff is just rumors that I’ve dealt with before. Me leaving had nothing to do with any of that. It was just me feeling like being close to home, by my family, being able to see them more and just a change of scenery. I had been in Portland for nine years. I had been through a couple of rebuilds. So it was just time to try something new. It wasn’t anything toward Damian or the organization.”
  • The decision to cancel the meeting between Aldridge and the Knicks was a mutual one, Aldridge also said in his radio appearance, notes Ian Begley of ESPN.com.
  • The Nets wanted to keep Mirza Teletovic, offering him a two-year deal that included an option, and the Kings also offered him a two-year deal, but he thought the Suns were a better fit, as Teletovic said to Bosnian media and as Igor Marinovic and NetsDaily relay (Twitter links). Teletovic signed for one-year with Phoenix.
  • Former Mavericks and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel is in talks with three NBA teams, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears (Twitter links).
  • Many scouts say Dragan Bender is the best international prospect, but whether Bender, who won’t turn 19 until November 2016, enters next year’s draft will depend on where he’d likely be drafted, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who looks the 2016 draft class.

And-Ones: Drummond, Farmar, Mekel

The Pistons could reap greater cap flexibility for next summer if they wait until then to sign Andre Drummond as a restricted free agent instead of giving him an extension this summer, but the team will leave that choice to the Jeff Schwartz client, writes Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. Drummond reportedly wants an extension, so it would seem it’s a strong bet he’ll end up with one before the October 31st rookie scale extension deadline. Here’s more from around the NBA and related circles:

  • Jordan Farmar has signed with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, the team announced (hat tip to David Pick of Eurobasket.com). Agent Tony Dutt searched for NBA deals for the point guard who spent part of last season with the Clippers, but found nothing, as Pick hears (Twitter link).
  • Maccabi Tel Aviv management pushed for the deal with Farmar, while the coaches were higher on former Mavs and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel, according to Pick, who earlier reported that Mekel and the team had a verbal agreement on a three-year deal with NBA out clauses (Twitter links). However, fellow Israeli club Hapoel Jerusalem is still pursuing Mekel, who remains in talks with teams from the NBA and Europe, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss clarified in a radio appearance on KPCC-FM last week that this past year was the first on brother Jim Buss‘ three-year window to guide the team to at least the Western Conference Finals, as Baxter Holmes of ESPNLosAngeles.com details. Jim Buss would resign his job as executive VP of basketball operations if the Lakers aren’t back to that point by the end of the 2016/17 season, his sister said.
  • The Lakers, Heat, Knicks, Suns and Pelicans have expressed interest in Justin Hamilton, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (Twitter link). The Timberwolves elected not to retain the right to match offers for him when they decided against making a qualifying offer.
  • Serge Ibaka failed to meet an incentive worth $100K this past season, so his cap hit for the Thunder for this coming season shrinks by that amount, to $12.25MM, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (on Twitter). That’s unlikely to matter for the Thunder, who are expected to be well above the cap and exceed the tax line. Ibaka’s salary for tax purposes will be determined based on the bonuses that he either triggers or doesn’t trigger this coming season, whereas last season’s figures only affect his cap number.
  • The Nuggets are hiring German national team coach Chris Fleming, former Magic assistant Wes Unseld Jr., and Kings assistants Ryan Bowen and Micah Nori as assistants to new head coach Michael Malone, reports Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. They’ll join Bulls assistant Ed Pinckney, who’s also reportedly joining the Denver coaching staff.

Southwest Notes: Rondo, Stoudemire, Smith

The tension between Rajon Rondo and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle that bubbled to the surface with a profanity-laced shouting match and Rondo’s subsequent benching during Tuesday’s game predates that confrontation, team sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com. The soon-to-be free agent and the coach have been at loggerheads over play-calling for a while, MacMahon hears, but owner Mark Cuban doesn’t seem worried, the ESPNDallas.com scribe notes. It’s far from the first time Rondo has clashed with a coach, as Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com points out (on Twitter). While we wait to see if his latest confrontation has any implication on this summer’s free agent market, there’s more on the Mavs amid the latest from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavs athletic trainer Casey Smith’s strong reputation was one of the keys to Amar’e Stoudemire‘s decision to sign with Dallas, as MacMahon writes in a separate piece examining the team’s success with players on minimum-salary contracts. Cuban cites the club’s medical staff along with its style of play and its success in the win-loss column for the team’s ability to attract veterans at a discount. “You start looking at the roster and what they’ve accumulated,” Richard Jefferson said. “I’m in year 14 [of my career] now. I want to win. If that means I have to take less money for a year or two to help a team win, then so be it.”
  • Josh Smith considered joining the Clippers before signing with the Rockets, as he told reporters today, including Dan Woike of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). The Clippers reportedly reached out to Smith’s representatives shortly after his release from the Pistons in December. He’ll be a free agent again in the summer.
  • Former Mavs and Pelicans point guard Gal Mekel wishes he’d entered the D-League when he was searching for an NBA deal after the Pelicans let him go earlier this season, tweets David Pick of Eurobasket.com. Mekel wound up signing this week with Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod.

Gal Mekel Signs To Play Russia

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.

Western Notes: Warriors, Mekel, Leonard

Golden State stood pat at the trade deadline, but Warriors consultant and part-owner Jerry West, who has plenty of say on personnel, thinks the team still needs to make some kind of move, as he told Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group.

“I think for sure we need to have a piece. For sure,” West said. “And I think as we get further into the year, I think if you watch how teams are going to particularly concentrate on our backcourt, we need more shooting and people who can make shots consistently. I think in games that we flounder in is when our guards are not able to go out there and score 45 to 60 points on any given night. … There’s going to be a bull’s-eye on those two guys’ backs.”

West made his remarks the day after the team signed James McAdoo for the season, filling the last open roster spot. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Former Pelicans and Mavs point guard Gal Mekel is close to a deal with Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod, a source tells David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter links). The GM of the Russian team is confident that Mekel will sign the deal, which would have an NBA escape clause, Pick adds. Mekel had been holding out hope for an NBA deal since his brief stint with New Orleans in December, but he recently appeared to be losing patience.
  • It’s been a rough year for Kawhi Leonard, Spurs president/coach Gregg Popovich said, with the reigning Finals MVP suffering through injury woes and a shooting slump as restricted free agency looms this summer, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News explores. He’s nonetheless averaging career highs virtually across the board and, as McDonald writes, he remains eminently valuable to the Spurs.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire is having an instant effect on the Mavericks, notes Jean-Jacques Taylor of ESPNDallas.com. The Mavs signed the ex-Knick last week, and it’s a prorated minimum-salary deal that goes until season’s end, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders shows (Twitter link).
  • The Kings have hired Vance Walberg as an assistant coach, the team announced. Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group first reported that the move would be expected if Sacramento hired George Karl as head coach. Of course, the Kings did indeed hire Karl last week. Walberg is leaving the Sixers staff for his new job.

And-Ones: Bucks, Mekel, Bargnani

The Bucks rejected an offer from the Suns that would have sent Goran Dragic to Milwaukee for Brandon Knight, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com, adding that Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis, whom Milwaukee acquired instead of Dragic, were who they wanted all along. Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times disputes that Milwaukee ever turned down a Dragic proposal, however (Twitter link).

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside wonders if Peyton Siva is being overshadowed with the Erie BayHawks this season.  Seth Curry has gotten most of the attention on the team, but Siva is still having a relatively strong campaign in his own right.
  • Danny Granger says he wanted to rejoin the Pacers when he was a free agent this summer but couldn’t afford to wait for them to decide what to do with Lance Stephenson, as Granger tells Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com (Twitter link).
  • Unless an NBA offer materializes in the next few days, Gal Mekel is going to play in Europe, David Pick of Eurobasket.com tweets. The point guard has reportedly passed on numerous overseas offers after being released by the Pelicans back in December.
  • Knicks team president Phil Jackson said there are no immediate plans to reach a buyout arrangement with Andrea Bargnani, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. “It’s debatable,’’ Jackson said regarding a buyout. “Now that we have a gap in scoring, this is a guy that is a natural scorer. I think the coaching staff would like to have him on the court and be competitive with his scoring capabilities. Without Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, we are going to need some scorers out there. And we would like to give him a forum. I am not going to hold it against him if he wasn’t here for the first 40-something games.’’
  • The Sixers almost wound up with Isaiah Thomas in their three-team deal with the Bucks and Suns, but they let the Suns send him to the Celtics in a separate transaction instead, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Zach Links and Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Holiday, Hibbert, Lawson

Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday could be sidelined for more than another month after reaggravating the stress reaction injury in his lower right leg on Monday, John Reid of NOLA.com reports. The Pelicans announced on Wednesday that he will be re-evaluated in three weeks by the team’s medical staff but New Orleans offered no timetable for his return. Holiday, who suffered the setback while doing light drills, has been sidelined since January 14th. He was averaging 15.2 points and 7.1 assists prior to the injury.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Pacers are open to trading Roy Hibbert, rival executives told Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). There is nothing imminent regarding a potential trade of Indiana’s starting center, Kennedy adds.
  • Gal Mekel is being hotly pursued by Hapoel Jerusalem of the Israel Premier League, David Pick of Eurobasket.com tweets. Mekel, a point guard, appeared in four games with the Pelicans in December this season.
  • Trade chatter around the Raptors is unusually low, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun tweets. The Raptors are looking toward the offseason to make any big moves, Wolstat adds.
  • Jermaine O’Neal, who has opted not to play this season, hinted that the Warriors and Trail Blazers as well as the Mavs were interested in his services, according to quotes posted by Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com from a Dallas radio interview. The Mavs were expected to sign O’Neal but the veteran delayed his comeback because he felt that the timing wasn’t right, O’Neal explained in the interview on 103.3 FM’s “Friedo and Fitzsimmons” show.
  • The Nuggets are still considering offers for Arron Afflalo, and some “late charging” teams have expressed interest in the guard, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports (Twitter link). The Blazers are still strongly in the mix to acquire Afflalo, Wojnarowski adds.
  • Ty Lawson‘s no-show at Nuggets practice on Wednesday might be a ploy on Lawson’s part to force a trade, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders opines. Lawson’s absence was unexcused by Nuggets coach Brian Shaw, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.
  • The Timberwolves had checked in on free agent Jamaal Tinsley but never offered him a 10-day contract, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities tweets. It was reported earlier that Minnesota and two other teams had offered Tinsley 10-day deals that he had declined.

And-Ones: Rivers, Howard, Green

JaMychal Green is going to rejoin the Austin Spurs, San Antonio’s D-League affiliate, Gino Pilato of D-League Digest tweets. Green recently completed a single 10-day contract with the Spurs, with whom he averaged 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds in five appearances. The 24-year-old has reportedly garnered interest as a possible 10-day signee from the Grizzlies, Knicks, Bulls, Bucks and Blazers.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Austin Rivers is beginning to hit his stride with the Clippers, Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes. “He’s just getting comfortable and trying to figure out his spots,” Los Angeles president of basketball operations and coach Doc Rivers said. “We’re trying to get him to [be more aggressive]. He’s a guard, so he’s trying to facilitate, and we need his aggression. It was funny — C.P. [Chris Paul] grabbed him and said, ‘You can get to the basket, we need you to attack.’ He listened to him, which was good.”
  • The Clippers have missed the bench production of Darren Collison, who signed with the Kings as a free agent this past offseason, and are hoping that Rivers can fill that void, Markazi adds. “He doesn’t do the pick-up [like Collison], but where he’s better is once the ball crosses half court,” the elder Rivers said. “He’s 6’5″, so he gives us length and speed and that’s been good for us.”
  • Rockets big man Dwight Howard has been advised to obtain a second medical opinion regarding his injured right knee, and he could miss an extended period of playing time, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reports.
  • Free agent guard Gal Mekel is thinking about returning overseas to play, David Pick of Eurobasket.com reports (Twitter link). Mekel had reportedly passed on numerous overseas offers after being released by the Pelicans, and he was hoping to land a spot with another NBA team.