Wizards

Quick Links

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

Quick Links

Wizards vs. Heat: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Wizards vs. Heat: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards take to the court Thursday night for the 2018-19 NBA opener against the Miami Heat.

The Wizards made some major moves this offseason, with the organization looking to capitalize on the opening atop the Eastern Conference power structure. The Wizards used their first-round pick on Oregon wing Troy Brown jr., and acquired a talented backup guard in Austin Rivers. The cherry on the top of the Wizards offseason sundae was big-man Dwight Howard, who missed three weeks due to a strained piriformis muscle, but participated in his first full practice with his new team Monday.

While the season opener won't tell us who will win the NBA championship in 2019, it will give us a decent outline of what the Wizards look like and where they could be headed this season.

The Wizards-Heat season opener takes place on Thursday, Oct. 18 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arena and will be braodcast on NBC Sports Washington.

WIZARDS vs. HEAT HOW TO WATCH
What: Washington Wizards vs. Miami Heat, 2018 NBA regular season Game 1
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)
Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the new MyTeams App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. HEAT TV SCHEDULE
7:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
7:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)
8:00 PM: Miami Heat @ Wizards (LIVE)
10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
11:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
11:30 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. KNICKS INJURY REPORT:

Wizards: Dwight Howard (day-to-day)
Heat: Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington (day-to-day)

WIZARDS vs. HEAT PLAYERS TO WATCH

John Wall, Wizards: After missing 41 games due to injuries, Wall is looking to recapture his form of two seasons ago, when he averaged a career high in points (23.1), assists (10.7), and field goal percentage (.451). 

Bradley Beal, Wizards: Beal and Wall are, and will always be the straw that stirs the drink in Washington. Beal is coming off a career year, where he was asked to do a lot more with Wall missing half the season. The hope this year is he can continue on last year's All-Star season while lowering his minutes per game as well (36.3).

Goran Dragic, Heat: Led Miami in scoring (17.3 points per game) and assists (4.8). 

WIZARDS vs. KNICKS SERIES HISTORY 

Number of all-time Meetings: 121 games
Regular Season Record: Heat lead 81-40
Last Meeting: Heat won 129-102
Last 10: Heat lead 7-3

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

Three things to watch for Wizards' regular season opener against the Heat

The Washington Wizards open their regular season on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Will Howard play?

Just one week ago, it would have seemed near impossible that Dwight Howard, the Wizards' biggest offseason acquisition, would be ready to play in the season opener, but after three solid days of practice, it can't be ruled out. The Wizards plan to evaluate him throughout the day on Thursday to determine if he can take the court in what would be his first live game action with his new team.

Howard, 32, missed the entire preseason and nearly all of their practices leading up to the opener with a strained piriformis muscle. Though reports have been encouraging from his three practices, he is not yet in game shape. Even if he can play, expect him to be limited. If he can't play, Ian Mahinmi will get the start.

Heat are banged up

Miami is not only coming off a game the night before, as they lost in their season opener to the Orlando Magic, but they are missing some key guys. Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow are out due to injuries.

That will leave Miami perilously thin at the guard and small forward position. That happens to be an area of the roster where the Wizards are especially deep, now with Austin Rivers as the backup shooting guard behind Bradley Beal and with first round pick Troy Brown Jr. behind Otto Porter Jr. and Kelly Oubre Jr.

That said, Waiters and Ellington being out means Dwyane Wade may get more run and, as we saw in the preseason, he is still very hard to stop. He is capable of a big night, especially given it's so early in the year and he doesn't yet have the wear-and-tear of a long season.

Can Beal reach the next level?

One of the most important indicators of how much better the Wizards will be this season is the continued improvement of their young players. John Wall, Porter and Oubre are included in that and particularly Oubre, who is entering an important season in the final year of his contract.

But the guy who improved more than anyone last year and has a chance to take another big leap this season is Beal. Now with one All-Star nod under his belt, what does he have for an encore? 

If Beal can get his scoring average up even higher from the 22.6 he put up last season, he could enter the All-NBA conversation. And he now has more help than ever with Rivers behind him. Beal should, in theory, be more fresh each night with Rivers taking away some of his workload. 

The Heat offer a good matchup defensively for Beal with Josh Richardson. He is one of the more underrated players in basketball and is a menace on the perimeter.

"I've been a fan of his since I played him in college at Tennessee," Beal said. "He's always been a pest. He's super athletic, sneaky athletic. And I feel like he developed his shot to where you have to respect it. If you go under [on screens], he's shooting it."

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: