Today, the San Antonio Spurs rescinded their qualifying offer on guard Gary Neal, making him an unrestricted free agent. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Mark Stein.
Hearing: San Antonio in process of withdrawing qualifying offer to Gary Neal, making Neal an unrestricted free agent and sure to speed exit
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 23, 2013
While this news unfortunately means that Neal almost certainly won’t return to San Antonio next season, the writing has been on the wall for some time now.
The Spurs are already loaded at the guard positions, and recently signed Marco Belinelli, a player with a similar skill set to Neal but who is an upgrade in many ways. The Spurs, as currently constructed, have no real need for Neal anymore. His cap hold of $1.11 million gives the Spurs financial flexibility and an open roster spot moving forward.
Neal has become a favorite amongst many Spurs fans in his three seasons with the team. He is a clutch shooter who is not fazed by big moments, as we witnessed most recently during the Finals. He is also a great story, going from an un-drafted free agent who only made the team after impressing in Summer League, to a valuable rotation piece for the Spurs.
He does have clear limitations, most notably on the defensive end, and often has a questionable shot selection. But Neal, who averaged 9.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game last season, will assuredly land on his feet somewhere else soon and provide his new team with valuable minutes and scoring off the bench.