After the Dallas Mavericks signed point guard Israeli Gal Mekel, they issued him a firm piece of advice -- join the team in the United States for offseason workouts and have a better chance at playing as a rookie. The catch is that Mekel would not be able to play for the Israeli national team at the 2013 Eurobasket tournament, but Mekel took the advice to the dismay of his national team coach.
Arik Shivek told The Jerusalem Post that Dallas forced Mekel out of his national team duties:
"I was very surprised and so was Gal," Shivek told the publication. "Mekel then put Donnie Nelson on the phone, who I know from his time in Europe, and I told him what I thought of what they are doing to Gal. I think they are not being fair and are putting him in an impossible situation."
"Gal was supposed to play against Tony Parker, not play golf in Israel," Shivek added. "I know Gal and this was difficult for him. I know what led him to this decision."
But Mekel, a point guard who played college basketball at Wichita State, told The Jerusalem Post he was content with the decision to work out in Dallas. Mekel said he wasn't forced into choosing the Mavs over the national team, and fellow Israeli NBA player Omri Casspi also stood behind the decision.
In 2009, Casspi skipped the Eurobasket tournament after being drafted by the Sacramento Kings. Both Casspi and Mekel said taking one year off from the national team will benefit it in the future.
Mekel, 25, played for the Israeli professional team Maccabi Haifa in 2012-13 and averaged 14.3 points and 5.4 assists per game.
In six games playing with the Mavs in the Las Vegas Summer League, Mekel averaged 9.7 points and 5.0 assists per game. The Mavs will likely watch Mekel and rookie Shane Larkin battle for the backup point guard spot behind free-agent signing Jose Calderon.