Visa snafu tanks Mekel’s NBA plans


(JTA) — Visa problems prevented Israel’s Gal Mekel from signing with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers were primed to sign Mekel, a point guard, following his release last month by the Dallas Mavericks, but delays in renewing his visa led Indiana to instead sign guard A.J. Price last week, according to a report by ESPN.

Mekel, the second Israeli to play in the NBA after Omri Casspi, had opened his second season in the NBA as a starter for the Mavs, but shooting woes and roster changes led the team to release the former Maccabi Haifa standout. He had missed part of his rookie campaign with an injury and split his time in the NBA’s Development League.

The Pacers, who had been granted an injury waiver by the league, had announced plans to pick up Mekel by the Nov. 6 deadline. But when word filtered down that he might not get his visa renewed until the next day, the team opted for Price, a five-year veteran who played his first three seasons with Indiana.

Mekel was rumored to be in talks to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have been depleted by injuries. The reports, however, were debunked Monday on Twitter by ESPN’s Marc Stein.

With a guaranteed contract, the Israeli will still be paid the remaining $1.76 million over this season and next.


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