Mavs picked Mekel over Memphis' Calathes

The Mavericks couldn’t find room for Nick Calathes on their roster, but he has a temporary spot in the Grizzlies’ starting lineup.

The Mavs considered Calathes a first-round talent when they acquired the 45th overall pick in the 2009 draft to select him, knowing he had a commitment to play in Greece. Four years later, the Dallas front office decided they’d rather have Gal Mekel, signing the Israeli point guard to a three-year contract and dealing Calathes’ rights to the Grizzlies for a 2016 second-round pick.

“They’re similar players,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “We went that direction, and at that point it made no sense to hold Calathes’ rights.

“They’re both good. They both have had similar success internationally, and they both have gotten much better since they’ve got in the NBA. I’m happy for Nick because I know him a little bit personally, and we like Gal. It wouldn’t make any sense to have both of them here.”

Calathes, a backup filling in while Memphis’ Mike Conley recovers from a sprained ankle, has averaged 15 points, three assists and 2.5 steals in two starts for the Grizzlies, shooting 52.2 percent from the floor. He has averaged 3.7 points and 2.3 assists in 13.9 minutes per game this season.

Mekel, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, has averaged 2.4 points and 2.1 assists in 9.6 minutes during his 30 appearances for the Mavs.

Once Mekel gets healthy, he might spend a lot of time with the D-League’s Texas Legends instead of being buried beneath Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Shane Larkin on the Mavs’ depth chart.

The reality of the situation is that Calathes wouldn’t have had any more opportunity than Mekel to make an impact with the Mavs as a rookie.

“We like Gal, we like Shane, we like Jose and we’ve got Monta [Ellis] to play point and Devin,” owner Mark Cuban said. “That’s a lot of point guards, so there wouldn’t be a lot of room. But [Calathes] can play. I still think he can play.”

The 6-foot-6 Calathes gets a chance to prove it Wednesday night against the team that traded him.