According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Indiana Pacers' attempt to add Gal Mekel to their injury-depleted depth chart via the hardship exception may be in peril due to a visa issue:
Because of a procedural delay in securing new visa for a foreign player, Pacers' plan to sign PG Gal Mekel has been thrown into jeopardy— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 6, 2014
One of only two players in the NBA representing the state of Israel, the procedural issues preventing Mekel from swiftly obtaining his new P-1 visa (which permits foreign-born athletes to compete in the United States at specific internationally recognized competitions) may ultimately force the Pacers to look for aid elsewhere:
Pacers flew Mekel to Boston yesterday in anticipation of signing him today because Indy's waiver from NBA to sign 16th player expires today— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 6, 2014
But procedural issues could prevent Mekel from securing new P1 Visa until Friday, potentially forcing Indy to sign a different player today— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 6, 2014
With five players sidelined due to various injuries and in the midst of playing four games in five nights, the short-handed Pacers could certainly use relief in the form of a 16th player sooner rather later. Acting as the Blue-and-Gold's lone guard, Donald Sloan clocked-in 42 minutes during Wednesday evening's overtime loss to the Washington Wizards. Prior to his career 31-point performance, Sloan had only once previously played more than 30-minutes during his tenure as a Pacer, coming during a 2014 late-season victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in which the starting line-up was given the night off.
If Mekel's visa issue remains unresolved through Friday, the Pacers will have to act quickly to find his replacement with the deadline to sign an additional player via the hardship exception fast approaching today. Also in need of help, the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday moved to sign Ishmael Smith, thus removing an additional name from the list of available free agent guards.
Though perhaps not the same caliber of play-maker as Mekel, Will Bynum (recently waived by the Boston Celtics) could potentially be an option for the Pacers if need be. A capable back-up, Bynum, age 31, appeared in 56 games last season for the Pistons, averaging 8.7 points and 3.9 assists on 42.8% shooting. Stein reports that former Pacer A.J. Price (recently waived by the Cleveland Cavaliers) may be the team's front-runner:
Hearing ex-Pacers draft pick A.J. Price has emerged as Indy's likely replacement for Gal Mekel if Visa issues indeed scuttle Mekel signing— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) November 6, 2014
Price played in six of the Cavaliers preseason games and averaged 7.2 points and 1.5 assists. During his most recent season with the Pacers, A.J. appeared in 44 games and averaged 3.9 points on 33.9% shooting in 12.9 minutes per game.
Whomever the Pacers end up adding via the exception will be signed to a non-guaranteed contract for the length of time it takes one of the injured roster members to return to game action. The NBA requires that an independent physician diagnose whether the inactive players are required to miss two weeks as well as assess each's ability to return to play.