The Milwaukee Bucks are tanking, which means that they’re doing all they can to play young guys and leave the older, slightly more expensive players who can help them win games out of the picture. Gary Neal falls into the second category, which makes him a trade asset that the Oklahoma City Thunder might be interested in.
According to Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman Neal and Durant were talking after the recent game between Milwaukee and Oklahoma City. It might have something to do with both of them being from Maryland or the previous games between the Spurs and the Thunder. However, with OKC struggling (5-5) without Russell Westbrook, there seems to be a need for scorers off the bench.
Neal is owed $3.25 million next season as well, which means the Thunder would have to give up on one of their contracts – one the Bucks might also be willing to take. It seems that trading Hasheem Thabeet, who has played a total of 37 minutes this season, is their best chance. Not that the Bucks are going to do much with Thabeet, one of the biggest busts in NBA history, but his contract isn’t protected, which is worth $1.25 million next season.
There’s always the option that the Bucks and Neal agree to a buyout and then any team looking for an experienced and proven playoff bench scorer can have a go at him, but right now it doesn’t seem like Milwaukee are in a hurry to spend money on seeing him go to play somewhere else.
Neal is averaging 10.4 points in 20.5 minutes this season, but the Bucks have pretty much deactivated him. He has done well for the Spurs in the past, including the postseason and the NBA finals last year. The Thunder do have a crowded backcourt when fully healthy, but right now without Westbrook it looks like they need some offensive help and a player who can play both guard positions will certainly be a welcome addition.