NBA free agency: Bucks, Gary Neal close to inking deal, per reports

Mike Ehrmann

After a strong shooting performance in the NBA Finals, there was a market for Gary Neal, and it appears he has settled on the Milwaukee Bucks.

It seems as if the Milwaukee Bucks have won the battle for Gary Neal's services, as they're reportedly close to bringing in the former Spurs shooting guard after several teams attempted to sign the 28-year-old.

The Towson product who spent the beginning of his career overseas before joining San Antonio in 2010 was deciding between the Bucks and the Hawks according to Marc Stein, while David Aldridge reports the Bobcats and Rockets had also tried to make a deal work. Milwaukee is well below the salary cap, so they can afford to bring in Neal, although it's unclear what the terms of the potential deal are.

Neal quickly rose from an unknown to a key piece on one of the NBA's best teams. He went undrafted in 2007 and bounced around Europe, playing in Turkey, Spain and Italy, but the Spurs took a flyer on him in 2010. As occasionally happens with Spurs signings, he quickly proved his worth as an NBA player. He played in 80 of the team's games, scoring 9.9 points per game, shooting 41.7 percent from downtown, and making the all-NBA rookie first team.

He has kept similar scoring averages while shooting well from deep and providing staunch defense on opposing guards. But perhaps his breakout was this past year's NBA Finals, when he shot 46.7 percent from beyond the arc against the Miami Heat, including a 24 point, 6-for-10 three-point shooting performance in a 113-77 blowout in Game 3.

He fits a position of need with the Bucks as O.J. Mayo's backup. As they still work to strike a deal with Brandon Jennings, their backcourt has some depth issues. Right now, they just have Mayo, Luke Ridnour and Ish Smith signed. Although they have a pair of good shooting small forwards in Ersan Ilyasova and Carlos Delfino, Mayo is the only consistent shooter among the guards, an issue Neal goes a long way towards solving.

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