The Bucks will attend a workout for free agent Israeli point guard Gal Mekel, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
Mekel, 25, has spent the past four years playing for clubs in Italy and Israel. He has suited up for three teams in the Israeli Basketball Super League, where he won Rookie of the Year in 2009 and MVP in 2011. The league recently named Mekel as one of the top five players this season.
Due to his age and career path (never declaring for the draft), Mekel is available to sign with any NBA team once free agency begins:
An international player who is older than 22 or was not selected in the draft in the same calendar year as his 22nd birthday is considered a rookie free agent. (Via Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ)
Prior to his professional career, Mekel attended Wichita State from 2006 to 2008. He played significant minutes for the Shockers – averaging 30.7 minutes his sophomore year – but compiled subpar stats both seasons. In 62 total games, Mekel averaged 6.7 points on 37.9 percent shooting and 2.7 assists, while posting an uninspiring 50.5 true shooting percentage (i.e., hovering around the Mendoza Jennings Line [49.8 percent]).
However, Mekel has flourished overseas. In 21 games for Maccabi Haifa this season, he’s averaging 13.4 points (53.4 2p%, 34.4 3p%, 80.3 ft%), 4.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 31.9 minutes. His season will end on Thursday, when Maccabi Haifa faces Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv in the Israeli Basketball Super League’s championship game.
If nothing else, Mekel offers some legitimate size – listed as 6’3”, 190 lbs – at the point guard position, which the Bucks haven’t enjoyed since Shaun Livingston (and Roko Ukic’s 13-game stint in 2009).
During last week’s visit to Utah’s practice facility, sources say Mekel impressed Jazz officials in pickup games with his ballhandling, size, ability to read the game and, most of all, his effectiveness in pick and rolls.
The suggestion is that the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder might actually be more effective in the NBA game than he is internationally, particularly in pick-and-roll situations, because the lane tends to be so much more clogged overseas.
Visa issues would have barred the point guard from making a smooth transition to an NBA roster, so Mekel instead signed with Maccabi Haifa. In October, Stein noted that if Mekel didn’t latch on with a team this past season, he would likely play in the 2013 Summer League.
Mekel’s audition will include other unnamed teams, but it’s not clear when or where it will take place.
If Mekel lands on an NBA roster next season, he would join Cavaliers forward Omri Casspi as the only two Israeli-born players in NBA history.