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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:


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. 


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Kevin Durant creating a documentary on why so many NBA players come from Prince George's County

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Kevin Durant creating a documentary on why so many NBA players come from Prince George's County

Still recovering from a long rehab process after rupturing his Achilles in the NBA Finals last year, the way Kevin Durant is spending his time may spark the interest of basketball fans all around the DMV area. 

The Sports Business Journal reported Durant is creating a documentary focusing on the prominence of basketball stars raised in Prince George's County and is "putting the finishing touches" on the project. 

Durant's Thirty Five Ventures has the documentary, called "In the Water", listed as still in development on its website. With players like Durant, University of Maryland legend Len Bias, and Pacers all-star guard Victor Oladipo all coming from the same place, this will surely be a must-watch. 

Markelle Fultz, Jeff Green, Quinn Cook, and Ty Lawson are also some of the better known local products to make it in the NBA. The documentary will air on Showtime. 

"This is a project that really looks at the roots of why that is societally and culturally," Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza told Sports Business Journal. 

Some of Thirty Five Ventures' other projects include ESPN+'s "The Boardroom" starring Durant and Jay Williams, Still KD, and more. Co-founded with manager Rich Kleiman, the company also has a diverse portfolio that includes investments into companies like food delivery service Postmates and the sports network Overtime. 

Although Durant has repeatedly said he won't be playing for his hometown Wizards during the past few free agency periods, he has done quite a bit to shine some light on the local community's success. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.


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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.