|It was actually three, but close enough.|
Mekel has been named in NBA circles in recent times, as he has participated in a series of workouts and free agent camps for teams around the league, hoping to catch on. Recently, this culminated into accepting an offer to join the Milwaukee Bucks’ summer league team. Yet in signing a three year, fully guaranteed deal, Mekel has done much more than merely catch on.
Mekel played for Wichita State between 2006 and 2008, establishing himself as a solid but unspectacular point guard who shot too much and had absolutely no NBA prospects. However, after leaving college after his sophomore season and returning to his native Israel, Mekel (who also has a Polish passport) has improved markedly and emerged as one of the best floor generals on the continent. In winning last year’s Israel Premier League MVP award, the 6’3 Mekel recorded per game averages of 13.3 points and 5.4 assists (good for second in the league), including a 21 point 7 assist 3 steal outing in the deciding championship game. Mekel commands games with passing vision, ball handling, high basketball IQ, genuine leadership skills and a deadly pick-and-roll game, and, while he’s not fast and lacks a good outside jump shot, he nonetheless brings a wealth of transferrable skills to the NBA.
Last year, Mekel impressed the Utah Jazz so much that they extended him a training camp offer, one he was only prevented from taking due to visa problems. This year, he’s done a lot better than that.
Mekel’s three year guaranteed minimum salary contract will pay him $490,180, $816,482 and $947,276 over the next three seasons, but does not cut into the Mavericks’s cap space. His first year salary is the same as the rookie minimum, and thus it does not affect cap space, as that is the same amount as a cap hold would be. Mekel, then, in theory preserves the Mavericks’s cap space plans while adding one future piece of the puzzle, which is why such a move can be announced in advance of future, larger ones.
This news was first reported by Marc Stein of ESPN. Just.