San Antonio Spurs sign Gary Neal
An undefeated run through the Las Vegas Summer League does not turn many heads, not when the squad in question lacks the intrigue of a first round draft pick or second year rising star.
DeJuan Blair out. James Anderson out. Malik Hairston out. Garrett Temple one game and out. Ryan Richards out of the country. Not even a Ian Mahinmi to pin some intrigue on.
That does not mean the Summer League was completely bereft of potential rotation players. Jonathan Givony of Draft Express reports that the San Antonio Spurs have signed sharpshooter Gary Neal to a three-year guaranteed contract.
Neal averaged 16 points in just a shade under 26 minutes through five games. More importantly, he did so while shooting 50 percent from the field and the three-point line.
Once the fourth leading scorer in college basketball, Gary Neal saw his career at La Salle University derailed after being falsely accused of rape in a coverup scandal that attracted national attention and sent that program into disarray.
Though acquitted, Neal was cast out of La Salle. He transferred to Towson, and after going undrafted, spent the past few seasons flourishing in Europe where the guys over at Draft Express kept tabs on him:
Neal operates as Benetton’s main facilitator and is looking absolutely outstanding creating shots for himself and others on the pick and roll, being arguably the most complete offensive player in that league.
While no one will confuse him with Steve Nash anytime soon, he has improved his playmaking skills substantially while keeping his turnovers to a minimum. Neal is very effective off the dribble and possesses a terrific mid-range game, needing very little space to get his shot off thanks to his quick release and excellent body control, being equally dangerous coming off screens.
Fluid and highly versatile, yet not incredibly explosive, he gets the rim nicely and finishes well around the basket, often opting to dish the ball off to an open teammate cutting to the rim or spotting up if things are looking overly congested in the painted area.
Terms of the deal have not been released, nor should it make headlines, but the move has San Antonio front office written all over it. The scouting report reads comparably favorable to Roger Mason, but before Spurs fans roll their eyes, remember Mason was once considered one of the shrewdest signings of an NBA offseason.
While it’s hard to say what ramifications this has on the overall roster—Hairston was deemed safe enough to keep out of Vegas, Temple is Popovich’s new “favorite player”, and Gee showed nicely as well—Neal provides a skill set that should fit nicely into the Spurs system.
Barring any major trades, with Richard Jefferson re-signing and Tiago Splitter coming over, the roster would appear to be close to being set. Disappointing as last season was at times, replacing Keith Bogans and Mason’s 2010 production with any type of consistency should be considered a win for the San Antonio Spurs.