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After signing Dante Cunningham on Thursday, it sounds like Gal Mekel may be the New Orleans Pelicans’ next free agent addition. The team recently waived Darius Miller and Patric Young, which opened up the two roster spots.
If you recall, the Indiana Pacers nearly signed Mekel when the NBA granted them a roster exemption to add a 16th player without having to waive anyone. However, Mekel needed a valid visa to play in the U.S. based on the location of his new team.
Usually, this would’ve just delayed the signing by several days. However, Indiana had so many injuries that they needed someone who could suit up for them immediately, so they opted to sign A.J. Price instead, since he didn’t have anything holding him up and he could play right away in their next game.
Now, it appears Mekel will be able to get the visa and then sign with the Pelicans, as there isn’t the same sense of urgency that he faced with the potential Pacers deal.
Mekel should be able to improve the Pelicans’ depth, as they have one of the weakest benches in the league, which has been a big issue for them early in the 2014-15 season. The team is currently 8-9 and in 11th place in the Western Conference.
The 26-year-old was a rookie last season with the Dallas Mavericks, and he’s a traditional point guard who should do a solid job running New Orleans’ second unit.
The Dallas Mavericks waived Johnson prior to the start of the season, and now he’s looking for a new home. After weighing his options, he’ll join the D-league and try to earn a call-up from an NBA team.
The veteran big man played in the Las Vegas Summer League to showcase his game to NBA executives after spending last year in China.
Prior to that, Johnson was on the Atlanta Hawks for two years, averaging 6.5 points and 3.9 rebounds, and earning a reputation as a tough enforcer (which is attractive to some teams).
Teams are constantly looking for big men, so Johnson could get a call-up if he’s productive in the D-League.
Johnson is just the latest NBA veteran who has joined the D-League in an attempt to make a comeback. Other players – like Jamaal Tinsley, James Johnson and Mike James – have successfully used their D-League stint to return to the NBA.
There was some talk that Ricky Rubio could return in December, perhaps around Christmas, but now Flip Saunders has shot down those rumors.
Saunders says that his point guard won’t play until January, which is unfortunate for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are currently in last place in the Western Conference with a 4-13 record.
Rubio was ruled out indefinitely after he badly sprained his left ankle in a game against the Orlando Magic in early November. At the time, the timetable for Rubio to come back was seven-to-nine weeks, so a January return lines up with that.
Prior to the injury, Rubio was averaging 9.4 points and 10 assists for the Timberwolves, while serving as the face of the franchise after Kevin Love’s departure. A week and a half before the injury occurred, Rubio agreed to a four-year, $55 million contract extension with Minnesota.
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