Dallas Mavericks’ center, Salah Mejri, is frustrated due to the lack of playing time, but cares more about the team winning above anything else.
Last year, the Dallas Mavericks brought in seven footer, Salah Mejri, from Real Madrid, to come in and compete for a roster spot in training camp. After impressing everyone with his athleticism and defensive ability, Mejri beat out veteran Samuel Dalembert for the final big man roster spot.
But last year was a year of ups and down for the Tunisian as he appeared in just 34 games and started in six of them. He was a perfect complement to Zaza Pachulia above the rim, but never really locked down a solid rotation role until the end of the season and playoffs.
Now Mejri is in his second year in Dallas and facing the same situation in the crowded front court.
Andrew Bogut is the unquestioned starting center. Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Powell have spent time sliding over into the center spot in the small ball lineups. This has left Mejri fighting for whatever minutes are left over, even in a season where the Mavs are the worst team in the league record wise.
“It’s frustrating and not easy to deal with it, but I have no other solution,” Mejri said after the game against the Pelicans on Sunday where he logged zero minutes. But even in frustration, Mejri made it clear that winning is the number one goal.
“It’s not about me playing or not, it’s about the team winning,” Mejri said. “I have to respect it, I’m ready whenever my name will be called.”
But Mejri’s minutes are hit or miss depending on the matchup it seems. Mejri hasn’t logged a minute in three games, logged under 10 minutes in six games and logged over 10 minutes in eight games. The definition of inconsistent minutes.
When I asked him if it affects his rhythm or not, Mejri made a reference to the experience he has from the inconsistency from last season. “Yeah for sure. It will kill your rhythm. I think I am an experienced guy in that situation especially after last year,” Mejri said.
Before Sunday’s game against the Pelicans, the last team the Mavericks welcomed to the American Airlines Center was the Los Angeles Clippers and DeAndre Jordan.
Salah Mejri only logged just under five minutes in the blow out loss to the Clippers, but he made his presence known to Jordan when Mejri contested a way above the rim dunk attempt from Jordan that 99% of players would have never contested.
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When Mejri fouled Jordan on the play, Mejri said Jordan had some words for him after the play was over.
“He talked and was like ‘I will get you next time’ and I was like ‘I will be there next time too’. I will talk to any player….sometimes I will get dunked on, sometimes I will get the block. Most of the time, I will get the block,” Mejri said.
“I’m not afraid of anybody,” Mejri proclaimed after being asked if there was anyone in the league he wouldn’t want to contest at the rim. For Mavs fans, how can you not like a guy like that? For older NBA fans, Mejri’s mindset is one that used to fill most NBA big men before half the league became banana boat buddies and thumb wrestling partners.
When I asked Mejri if there was an added bonus to blocking certain players in the league, he acknowledged that some do mean more than the others. “It’s always the stars of the team or the big names, it’s always good to get them on your list.”
Oh, man…Salah’s list. From Kevin Durant to Russell Westbrook, Mejri’s list contains some of the best players in the league as it continues to grow.
The only question now is if he will get the minutes to make that list longer.