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Some ex-Wizards teammates will take exception to Gary Neal's point of view

Some ex-Wizards teammates will take exception to Gary Neal's point of view

LAS VEGAS -- The best free agents in the NBA are off the board, and so is a bulk of the money. 

But Gary Neal might not be doing himself any favors to help his image with what he posted from his Facebook page on Monday.

On the surface, it doesn't seem like much but he's calling out, though not by name, the contracts signed by Garrett Temple, Ramon Sessions, Jared Dudley and Nene.

All were teammates in Washington who found homes elsewhere when free agency opened July 1. All but Nene received hefty raises.

Neal, however, still doesn't have a job despite what appears to be good numbers for a role player off the bench: 9.8 points, 46.5 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc.

A tear in his hip in December ruined his season and Neal only played 40 games, was waived by the Wizards and had to have surgery. What those numbers don't show is how he wasn't well-received in the Wizards' locker room. He won't like hearing that, but it's true. That's how they felt.

The word "selfish" often was used after postgame losses by various players -- something that was rarely said in the previous two playoff seasons -- and though Neal's name was never used publicly that's who was the primary target. That term also was used by some on the coaching staff.

Teammates complained about his locker room behavior to the point that Drew Gooden, CSNmidatlantic.com was told by someone there at the time, asked, "What is wrong with that dude?" He rubbed some players the wrong way because, it was interpreted, all of Neal's concerns about the offense involved getting himself better statistics so he could get paid this summer.

Another former teammate, reflecting on the season Sunday, spoke about feeling as if Neal was trying to show him up in front of teammates — this conversation with CSN took place almost 24 hours before the Facebook post — and concluded: "I should've punched him out." When Neal was with the Milwaukee Bucks, that almost happened with Larry Sanders.

Said another teammate from 2015-16 after seeing Neal's post Monday, via text: "Terrible teammate. All about himself."

During a game against the San Antonio Spurs last season, Neal openly complained about Gregg Popovich, who got rid of Neal after three seasons, on the bench during an actual game. Neal also has been known to recite his statistics and what he shoots from certain spots on the floor better than others who, in his words, weren't as good as him and making more money.

All of this has fed into the perception of Neal not being a good teammate. In an exchange with CSN on Twitter:

https://twitter.com/gneal1414/status/752626716040949761

Neal has been on five different teams since 2010 and his hoping for a sixth. Word travels fast in the NBA, and in order to be this difficult a player has to be so special that he's worth it. If Neal remains without a home when the season begins in late October, it won't be because he can't shoot. 

It's will be despite being a good shooter, his teammate skills may need some refining or he has to be in the right situation. Given what we know about Sanders now, was Neal that far off base?

Basketball is about more than box scores and statistics or analytics. It's about relationships, too. Being a good teammate, taking genuine pleasure and joy in helping someone else get better numbers at the expense of yours at times, is every bit as vital.

The Wizards didn't see that in Neal. And even though Neal will disagree and defend himself as should be expected, he has to consider that perception eventually becomes reality. He has to care how others take his words even if he doesn't exactly mean it that way.

He sees his Facebook comments as all about himself, about the money that he's not getting that he believes he deserves and has earned. There are a lot of ridiculous contracts being handed out. Anyone with NBA talent on the outside looking in should feel a bit miffed. That's understandable. 

This isn't about the type of husband or father Neal is — he's spoken of highly in these terms by even those who have criticized him as a teammate — but whether or not he plays well with others. Or maybe it's just that he's an acquired taste because Neal won't bite his tongue for anyone.

He's going to have to convince another team he's not that guy, or that his personality type is a better fit in that new environment. Or that he can at least be a better version of the player he was in D.C. as he approaches 32. 

There aren't many more years left on his clock but there is a lot of money still on the table. 

RELATED: ASSESSING THE WIZARDS' OFFSEASON MOVES

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Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest

Bradley Beal eliminated in first round of three-point contest

It was a short night for Wizards guard Bradley Beal in the 2018 All-Star three-point contest on Saturday, as he was eliminated in the first round.

Wearing the Wizards' new 'The District' white alternate jersey, Beal shot a 15 and fell short of the top three spots to qualify for the second round. Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest with a 28 score in the final, beating out Klay Thompson of the Warriors and Tobias Harris of the Clippers.

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Beal's was undone by a slow start. He missed all five shots on the first rack and made just one on the second. He began to heat up at the third rack, but by then couldn't recover.

Here is Beal's full round:

This was Beal's second showing in the three-point contest. He finished second back in 2014 and this year said he was motivated to avenge that loss. He should have plenty more opportunities to participate in the future if he chooses.

The NBA's All-Star Saturday night began with Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie winning the skills competition. He beat Bulls big man Lauri Markkanen in the final round.

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

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2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

2018 NBA All-Star Saturday night: TV and live stream info, things to watch for dunk contest, three-point contest

The 2018 NBA All-Star Saturday Night is here with the three-point contest, dunk contest and skills competition set for Los Angeles.

Here is all you need to know: TV and live stream info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

2018 NBA ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Where: Staples Center
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT
Online with no cable TV: fuboTV (try for free)

PODCAST: ALL-STAR WEEKEND PREVIEW, WIZARDS AT THE BREAK 

Skills competition

Participants: Lou Williams, Clippers; Jamal Murray, Nuggets; Al Horford, Celtics; Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets; Joel Embiid, Sixers; Buddy Hield, Kings; Lauri Markkanen, Bulls; Andre Drummond, Pistons

What to know: This year's crop has a fascinating mix of guards and big men and don't sleep on the seven-footers. Embiid in particular has a unique skillset for his size. Still, it's tough to beat the guards. Watch out for Dinwiddie, who is the best passer of the bunch.

RELATED: BETTING ODDS FOR DUNK CONTEST, THREE-POINT CONTEST

Three-point contest

Participants: Klay Thompson, Warriors; Eric Gordon, Rockets; Devin Booker, Suns; Paul George, Thunder; Wayne Ellington, Heat; Bradley Beal, Wizards; Kyle Lowry, Raptors; Tobias Harris, Clippers

What to know: Thompson and Gordon enter the contest as past champions, as Thompson won it in 2016 and Gordon took it home last year. Thompson has the best three-point percentage among the group and is the favorite, but watch out for Beal, a past runner-up, and George who has the second best percentage. Also, Booker is one of the game's best young players and has a very smooth stroke from three.

RELATED: WIZARDS/BULLETS HISTORY ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

Dunk contest

Participants: Dennis Smith Jr.; Mavericks; Donovan Mitchell, Jazz; Larry Nance Jr., Cavaliers; Victor Oladipo, Pacers

What to know: This is all about the rookies, Smith and Mitchell, who most are predicting to win. Oladipo has been in the contest before, but didn't win. He's also the only All-Star of the bunch. Nance is the only guy who isn't a guard and his father won it back in 1984. It will be interesting to see if he does some sort of nod to his old man, now 34 years later.

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