Reports surfaced Tuesday evening that the Bucks are actively shopping Gary Neal in hopes of unloading him in the near future.
Neal, who signed as a free agent this summer after spending the past three seasons with San Antonio, has not worked out in Milwaukee. He’s averaging a career-high 10.4 points but is shooting a career-low 29.4 percent from the field. He’s also averaging fewer than two rebounds and two assists per game. While Neal is a streaky shooter, he’s gained a reputation as a bit of a chucker and has not been able to settle into a consistent and productive role as he did with the Spurs.
In addition to his struggles on the court, Neal and Larry Sanders were involved in a verbal dispute following Saturday’s game against the Suns. Neal reportedly shouted at Sanders: “I earned my money. Why don’t you try it?”
Though both players, as well as coaches and teammates, have since downplayed the exchange, it’s difficult to believe the incident isn’t a factor in the team shopping Neal. It’s virtually out of the question to move Sanders, who signed a lucrative extension this summer. He’s experienced his fair share of struggles, both on the court and off, but he remains the face of a franchise filled with career role players (and one promising rookie).
Coming off the bench for the last-place Bucks, Neal’s value couldn’t be a whole lot lower, but it’s very possible a contending team could take a flyer on the 29-year-old. His shooting percentage has never been all that spectacular (career 42.9% FG), but he’s an elite three-point shooter (41.9% this season) willing to accept a secondary role. In hindsight, it’s clear Neal’s value was inflated playing for the machine that is the San Antonio Spurs. However, if he’s dealt to a team with similar chemistry for which he could carve out a consistent role, Neal could regain his reputation as a valuable bench shooter. He’s also on a very reasonable two-year, $6.5 million contract that expires after next season.