Gary Neal Would Be Valuable Addition to Contender's Reserve Unit
Hearing: San Antonio in process of withdrawing qualifying offer to Gary Neal, making Neal an unrestricted free agent and sure to speed exit— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 23, 2013
If contenders with cap space and room in the backcourt are smart, they will at least consider signing him as a long-range bomber off the bench.
Neal has proved he has the ability to get buckets in bunches over the last three years. He's been pretty consistent since breaking into the NBA as a 26-year-old rookie. Take a look at his stat line:
His scoring numbers have held steady, but his three-point shooting did dip below 40 percent for the first time in his career last season. That said, 35 percent is nothing to scoff at—especially considering it was the lowest number of his career.
At 6'4", Neal is more of a combo guard, but he can certainly score and play some lead guard. He could offer a contender the type of bench presence that can ignite a run when he enters a game.
Contenders with reserve units that are built on defense but devoid of players who can create their own shot should definitely give Neal a look.
Teams that figure to contend that would seem to have a spot for Neal—if the price was right—are as follows.
This is interesting considering the Spurs' signing of former Bull Marco Belinelli likely precipitated Neal's exit from San Antonio. Neal could step in and play the role the Bulls wanted Nate Robinson to play behind Derrick Rose last season.
Which team would be a better fit for Gary Neal?
Neal doesn't penetrate as well, but he's less reckless, bigger and a better shooter than Robinson. His ability to make shots from deep would make him a fit to play in the same backcourt as Rose at times.
We probably shouldn't still consider the Lakers contenders, but it may just be force of habit. Any team with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol at least deserves some respect. Adding Neal would push Jodie Meeks for minutes as the second 2-guard.
A long-range shooter on the floor with Bryant, Gasol and even Steve Nash could be dangerous.
The Grizzlies' beef on the inside is nearly unmatched in the NBA, but the team desperately needs capable scorers on the perimeter. Neal's ability to knock down the three would be a welcomed addition to this team.
While he isn't the defensive stalwart Tony Allen is, Neal is a markedly better shooter than Allen and second-year pro Tony Wroten. He could earn himself valuable minutes as the primary perimeter scoring option in Memphis.
I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, though.
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