In the wake of the Adreian Payne trade, much of the attention has been paid to the possible acquisition of free agent shooting guard Ray Allen. However, an alternate name was floated in the hours after the Atlanta Hawks opened a roster spot, and that name popped up again on Friday afternoon in a report that the team could be interested in acquiring veteran guard Gary Neal.
Sources: There's significant league interest for Gary Neal - including Hawks - but no substantive talks yet on contract buyout w/ Minnesota.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) February 13, 2015
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo reports "interest" on the part of the Hawks, but in the same breath, the 30-year-old Neal isn't (yet) a free agent. Most expect that Minnesota and Neal will eventually work out a buyout of some sort (Neal has not played in a game since arriving via trade from Charlotte), but it must be added that the Hawks would likely wait until he is freely available to make any sort of overture.
The 6-foot-4 Neal is a career 38.1% shooter from 3-point range, and that is his principle appeal to contending teams. However, that number has dipped to just 29.3% on 3.1 attempts per game in 2014-2015, and there are real questions about whether he would even serve as an upgrade over internal options like Kent Bazemore and Shelvin Mack.
Mike Budenholzer and Gary Neal have a history dating back to San Antonio, so the interest makes some semblance of sense, but from a basketball standpoint, the fit isn't as graceful as some may think. Stay tuned.