LOS ANGELES — Monty Williams calls the newest Pelican “a facilitator,” and the way the New Orleans coach emphasizes the word, you understand he’s glad to have anyone who can help cure his team’s oft-stagnant ball movement.
Gal Mekel, who signed Friday, is a 26-year-old Israeli who brings a year of NBA experience — with Dallas last season — and an old-school point mentality.
“He puts his passes on the button,” Williams said Saturday morning after Pelicans shootaround at USC’s Galen Center. “I liked the way he ran Dallas’ team. I appreciated it.
“I think potentially he has the ability to be a true point guard. Can he be a backup point guard? I’m not sure.”
Mekel, who played two seasons at Wichita State before beginning his pro career in Israel and Italy, is obviously glad to be back in the Association. The Mavericks cut him when they re-signed J.J. Barea.
“I’m very excited,” Mekel said. “I’m with a team only one day, and the guys are great, really welcoming me in a positive way.”
They’ll like him even more if he can live up to his billing.
“I can run a team, get guys open, help on defense, get guys shots,” Mekel said of his strengths. “I’ve worked on my shooting, and I think it’s improved from last year.”
Mekel is 6-foot-3, and Williams called him a “big guard.” Indiana wanted to sign Mekel when it opened the season with its top two point guards injured, but had a short window to do so because of roster exemptions, and the player couldn’t get a visa within 24 hours.
He worked out for the Pelicans on Wednesday, and this team got a visa in 24 hours, so he’ll be in uniform Saturday night for the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.
“I’m really hungry to play, and I think I can help this team,” Mekel said. “I had a good game against them in preseason. I’ve been off for a few weeks, but this is the NBA. You sign, and the next day you play.”
Mekel said he saw the Pelicans playbook for the first time Friday night.
“It’s more difficult for a point guard,” he said of the challenge. “As a point guard, I have to know every position’s plays. But I’m a quick learner. I believe the transition will be easy and fast. I’m a true point guard — that’s the way I’ve played all my life.”
A.D. stresses ball movement
With the Pelicans coming off a season-high 17 turnovers in Thursday’s loss at Golden State, All-Star forward Anthony Davis would appreciate some well-aimed passes against the Clippers.
“We have to come out, move the ball, share the ball,” said Davis, who made 14 of 19 shots against the Warriors.
Nearly a fifth of his shots came on follows, though — in the second half as the Pelicans couldn’t get him the ball.
“We talk about it,” Davis said. “I think everyone understands. I think we’re going to come out (Saturday night) and get back to the way we’re supposed to work.”