Israel Rumors

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Ronnie: What do you see Maccabi doing this summer to revamp the roster? Will they go hard after Mekel? Also is Bender going to play on the senior team this year? David Pick: Maccabi are going hard after Gal Mekel – as are Hapoel Jerusalem. Not many players are safe in terms of moving forward with Maccabi next season. MarQuez Haynes, Nate Linhart, Sofo Schotsanitis are all gone. Joe Alexander is questionable, depending on whether he is awarded Israeli credentials. Alex Tyus is looking for his max deal in Europe, which is a well-deserved $1 million. Jeremy Pargo is 50-50, could go either way, will come down to if Maccabi win or lose championship. Assistant Pini Gershon is out.
“Obviously the No. 8 pick is expected to have an illustrious and longer NBA career than I’ve had, so that’s fine, but I think that Milwaukee should certainly share that [bust] label. They contributed heavily to it. Heavily. For the Bucks to pull the plug on me, I thought, was dramatically irresponsible on their part. What it did was label me as some sort of a problem player. It made everyone in the league look at me different when 12 months before any team would’ve died to have me.”
“I don’t think there is a hard definition of what a ‘draft bust’ is,” Alexander told Basketball Insiders. “Ultimately not being in the NBA is on me, but as far as ‘who is a bust?’ you have to look at Milwaukee and the management that drafted me. If you want to label anyone with the term ‘bust’ — it’s the Bucks. When Milwaukee drafted me, I was touted as a ‘project’ and someone with a lot of potential who could contribute had I learned to play the game. That’s what the Bucks told me. I needed time. I didn’t start playing basketball until I was 16 years old, but I was the most athletic guy in the entire draft. The Bucks knew that. Everyone understood this. I could’ve been drafted by any other team in the league and they would’ve given me time to develop.”
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And as Cleveland fans worry that Blatt isn’t using his roster properly, Israelis are proudly sticking behind him. Boston-born Blatt, 55, remains one of the country’s most beloved figures, thanks to his winning history as a coach in his adopted homeland and national pride in his making it big time. “It means a lot from two perspectives: Number one, I can do something for the people in Israel, and number two, I can do something about bringing seven million new fans to the Cavaliers,” Blatt said Monday night after a third straight win put the Cavaliers at 22-20. “I’ve been very fortunate, we had a great deal of success in Israel the last several years, so people are positive about this and about me and I’ve got Bron and Kevin and Kyrie and they love the NBA over there so it’s a natural tie-in, and it’s great.”
His roots in Israel remain deep. He’s married to an Israeli woman, Kinneret, and raised his four children here, with the oldest two having completed their military service. He speaks fluent, albeit American-accented, Hebrew and is a popular pitchman for TV ads who has professed a desire to one day serve as an ambassador for the country. An economic newspaper recently reported Blatt just purchased a pair of high-rise Tel Aviv apartments.
Mekel also attacked the reports that claimed he was asking for $2.5 million for two-and-a-half years from Maccabi, insisting that they were aimed to display him in a negative manner. Mekel’s best option to return to the NBA will likely be through a 10-day contract, which teams will be able to offer to players from next Monday. Mekel would have three games to impress in the hope of being signed to another 10-day contract and ultimately until the end of the season. It is hardly an ideal situation, but considering Mekel’s current position, it is the best he can hope for.
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Selby, once the highest ranked high-school baller in the United States, led a class that features some of the NBA’s current-and-future stars. In a sense, he went from hero-to-zero. Selby bounced around the NBA and the respected D-League before heading overseas for stints in China, Croatia, and now Israel. It wasn’t for split second that the 23-year-old Baltimore native began to mull over retirement. “I went through a time where I was depressed with basketball. I got depressed because things weren’t going my way. I had thoughts of retiring,” Selby told Basketball Insiders following a team practice in Herzliya, a suburb city outside of the Tel Aviv.