The Milwaukee Bucks are off to their worst start in franchise history – with just seven wins in 34 games — so it is little wonder that roster moves are being considered.
The 6’4” shooting guard signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract in July after enjoying three solid seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, primarily in a backup role. Now, with the 2013-14 campaign not even at the halfway mark, it appears as though Neal may have already worn out his welcome.
Neal was expected to bring veteran leadership and stability in the backcourt to a team that was massively overhauled in the offseason. The 29-year-old is actually averaging a career-best 10.4 points per game, but he is doing so while connecting on a career-low 39.4 percent of his field goal attempts. Even worse, Neal drew unneeded attention to the team’s locker room when he was overheard telling Larry Sanders to try earning his money after a 116-100 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 4.
The speculation surrounding Neal comes just a couple weeks after Sanders had his name mentioned in trade rumors and the value of both players might be at an all-time low. Although, I would hazard a guess that Neal might be attractive to a more experienced, playoff-bound team, such as the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Oklahoma City Thunder or maybe even the Spurs.
This team is in a major state of conflict right now. In my opinion, the Bucks began the season with a chance to make the playoffs, despite the adjustment period expected for a roster consisting of 10 new players. But the narrative changed drastically after a poor start and the focus — at least for a major portion of the team’s fan base – is now on player development and draft positioning.
If the organization is fully committed to establishing long term success, as opposed to holding out hope for a playoff push this season, then it will be of little surprise to hear names such as Neal and Sanders mentioned in trade rumors.
Holding onto veterans at this point could be toxic, especially if they are going to fight over and stress about the team’s struggles — of which there is no end in sight.
This is only the beginning of the trade rumors that we will hear involving the Bucks and I wouldn’t be surprised if some other prominent names, perhaps even O.J. Mayo, enter the mix in the very near future.