DALLAS -- The signing of Gal Mekel by the Mavericks this week made international headlines.
The 25-year-old guard is only the second player from Israel to ever sign a contract to play in the NBA, following forward Omri Casspi, who is signing with Houston this offseason.
“I know Israel is really rocking and people are very excited,” Mekel said. “I got a lot of phone calls and Facebook messages and everything. I'm really proud.”
The Mavericks didn't announce contract details, but agent Sam Porter said last week that the 6-foot-3 Mekel had agreed to a three-year deal with $2.3 million guaranteed.
Mekel played two seasons at Wichita State (2006-08) before leaving school early to play professionally in Europe. He won his second Israeli League MVP award last season - his 4th as a professional - when he averaged 13.3 points and 5.4 assists for his championship team.
“He's an experienced player who has done some great things internationally,” said Mavs Head Coach Rick Carlisle. “We like what we've seen of his career, and here we're working to help him get better at some things that he's going to need to do better in the NBA.”
The NBA Summer League games haven't started yet. So far all they've done is practice, but the team has been together long enough to realize that Mekel brings something special.
"Oh, he's a good player," said Mavericks forward Jae Crowder. "You can tell he can play. He knows how to play basketball. He has that Euro swagger about him, like [Manu] Ginobili, so he won't back down from nobody."
"Yeah, he does, he's got that Euro swag," said center Bernard James. "I had a couple of Euro’s on my team in college, and they had that same little swagger to them, so I'd say he's doing the same thing."
"First of all, you need to explain to me what is a 'Euro swagger' and what it means," Merkel said, laughing. "I think that's the type of game I was used to playing -- a lot of pick-and-rolls, a lot of movement, a lot of sharing the ball."
It’s a style of play that's already made an impression after just two days on the job.