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Report: Wizards players found Gary Neal to be selfish, bad teammate

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In 2014, Gary Neal and Larry Sanders got into a a heated locker-room argument — an incident later used as evidence of Sanders’ erratic behavior that led to his exit from the NBA.

Maybe it should have said more about Neal, too.

Neal, a free agent who played for the Wizards last season, posted on Facebook yesterday:

I Was The Leading Scorer of The Bench (40) Games and The Best 3PT Shooter On The Washington Wizards And The Contracts My Fellow 2nd Unit Members Received

8 Mil Per Year
6.5 Mil Per Year
10 Mil Per Year
3 Mil Per Year

🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔

Neal is talking about Garrett Temple (Kings), Ramon Sessions (Hornets), Jared Dudley (Suns) and Nene (Rockets) and clearly lobbying for his own deal.

One problem with this method: He’s publicly denigrating other players to promote himself. Maybe that wasn’t Neal’s intention, but that was result of his post.

Not that Neal will get the benefit of the doubt from the players he alluded to, anyway.

J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic:

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.”

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.

Neal has carved out an NBA career despite going undrafted out of Towson. He has played for five teams in six years.

Why should he feel loyal to a structure that only minimally gives him the time of day?

No team wanted him at first. None has made him a mainstay. For Neal to remain in the league, just as he did to enter it, he has to scratch and claw for every opportunity. That means pushing for playing time and scoring opportunities — not kowtowing to players, even teammates, perceived to be better than him.

I’ll say Dudley, Nene and Sessions are better than Neal. That’s my role analyzing the game. But why should Neal make the same acknowledgement? He’s competing with them for a job, even when they were teammates — a nuance often lost when discussing veteran leadership and mentoring.

That said, front offices and coaches want players to get along. Cohesion leads to better performance on the court. Neal must find a middle ground where he’s worth having around. Turning 32 before the season and coming off injury, Neal has less margin for error. If he just pisses off teammates — distracting them from producing — he’ll have to contribute plenty himself.

Maybe he will. Neal has a proven record of providing a scoring spark off the bench, and teams always need more shooting.

At least one of his former teammates is sticking up for him, and Neal also has redeeming qualities.

Dudley:

Michael:

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

Being a good husband and father is generally more important that being a good coworker. Neal should be celebrated for his successes.

But he should also realize, fairly or not, he’s making it harder for himself to stay in the NBA.

Dion Waiters shows off slimmed down physique on Instagram

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Suddenly the annual “he lost/gained 15 points and is in the best shape of his life” portion of the NBA summer is upon us.

The Miami Heat are known around the league for having one of the best conditioning programs, guys who go there almost universally get in better shape. Dion Waiters last season seemed to be the exception to the rule. Waiters wasn’t 50-year-old-suburban-dad-with-a-beer-gut out of shape, but coming off an injury where he didn’t get to train like he wanted, Waiters didn’t look like a guy in NBA shape either. Critics lit Waiters up on social media.

Waiters posted his response — he’s been hitting the gym.

View this post on Instagram

Last year when I came off 1 of the most depressing & frustrating times of my life. Coming off injury & not feeling like myself nor looking like myself I was in a dark place mentally & physically , Because the game I love so much was taken away due to season ending surgery. Now a days with this social media ran world they laughed at me made jokes etc not knowing what I was battling or going through everyday. So instead of me joining the circus I told myself you from (Philly) you’ve been through worst shit in your life than this. So I promise myself I would work my ass off & get back to where I was before the injury. I’m not done yet but I kno somebody in the world prolli needed to hear this. Stay positive block out the outside noise & grind. #Philly🧀 #stayTune

A post shared by 🔥🔥🔥🔥 (@waiters3) on

Good for Waiters.

Let the flood of NBA workout videos and shots of guys with their new physiques begin.

Philly fans will be hoping to see one from Joel Embiid.

Russell Westbrook trade to Houston official, Thunder praise him on way out door

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Whatever their long-term intentions, after Paul George was traded the Oklahoma City Thunder changed focus. General Manager Sam Presti sat down with Russell Westbrook and his agent, talked about the future, what the former MVP wanted, then worked on trading him where he wanted to go.

That was Houston.

The Westbrook to the Rockets trade for Chris Paul — with Oklahoma City picking up two first-round picks and two pick swaps — is now official.

In announcing the trade, the Thunder praised the greatest player in their franchise history on his way out the door.

“Russell Westbrook is the most important player in the brief history of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He has left an indelible mark on this team, city and state,” Presti said in a statement. “None of us could have anticipated the player he has become, and we are all deeply proud of what he has contributed to the success of the franchise and to our community. Russell and his wife Nina, their three children, his brother and his parents will always remain part of the Thunder family. We wish them nothing but happiness and success in the future.”

“I have a great deal of respect for Russell and there is no way to adequately describe our appreciation for what he has meant to Oklahomans,” said Thunder Chairman Clayton I. Bennett. “His legacy here is immense, and he will be honored by the team for all he has done. We wish he and Nina and their family all the best. While this era of Thunder basketball now comes to an end, I’m confident our talented team of people will once again position the Thunder for success in the future.”

While Presti and the OKC front office are still working on a CP3 trade, they are entering a rebuilding phase.

The Rockets are banking on Westbrook and James Harden being able to work out any fit issues — and finding a way to defend with both of them on the court — to keep them as title contenders.

Anthony Davis dances around question about re-signing with Lakers

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After the drama around his push to get to Los Angeles, league executives and other sources around the NBA expect Anthony Davis to re-sign with the Lakers on a max contract next summer.

However, Davis has paired up with LeBron James, and rule one of the LeBron contract playbook (and agent Rich Paul’s, too) is to keep the pressure on a franchise. Make the team improve and keep itself in title contention.

So it’s not a surprise that when ESPN’s Rachel Nichols asked Davis about re-signing with the Lakers, he didn’t answer the question directly.

Nichols: You’re only signed through this season. Do you think you will be a pillar of the Lakers for years and years to come?

Davis: Honestly, Rachel, I’m just focused on this season. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I have one year here, so I’m going make the best of this year. And when that time comes around in the summer or, you know, whenever the season’s over — hopefully, around, you know, mid-June, after we just had a parade, and I need a couple days to think — then we can talk about that. But until then, I’m trying to do whatever I can to help this team win this year.”

That a well-handled scripted answer hitting all the talking points.

After the NBA summer we have just gone through (and continue to see with Chris Paul), nobody sane will say Davis would never leave the Lakers after one season. Cut to Kevin Garnett screaming “Anything Is Possible.”

However, he came to the Lakers to win rings (now and in the future), to take over as the face of the franchise when LeBron steps away in a few years, to get the kind of recognition and endorsements he felt were not coming his way in New Orleans, and ultimately to have his jersey up in the rafters with Wilt and Kareem and Shaq. That’s the plan. Which means AD will re-sign with the Lakers next summer.

He’s just not going to say that right now.

Kendrick Perkins: ‘Pelicans better lock Zion in the House’ because of great New Orleans food

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Zion Williamson‘s weight became a discussion point during Summer League.

The general consensus going into the draft was that Williamson would ultimately want to play a little lighter in the NBA than he did in college (but without losing his strength). Since then Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski came out and said the No. 1 pick was not in Summer League shape and should not have played. Some broadcast analysts said he looked heavy. In the hallways and behind-the-basket defacto meeting space of Summer League there was a lot of talk among league watchers about the Pelicans needing to get Zion with their trainers and dietitians to prepare him for the 82 game grind.

Kendrick Perkins warns that’s not going to be all that easy in the Big Easy.

As a wannabe foodie, let me just say that Perkins is spot on about the food in New Orleans. It may be my favorite food city in America, it is home to the ultimate comfort foods, and the portions are not small. From muffulettas to gumbo to po’ boys to fried every-kind-of-protein-you-can-name, New Orleans cuisine is both undeniably delicious and not the foundation of a healthy diet.

It’s going to take some discipline from Williamson, who also can afford his own chef now to keep the meals at home healthy and tasty. Then gumbo can be a splurge-day treat.