Milwaukee Bucks trade rumors: Where will Gary Neal end up?

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

With the Bucks firmly in the Eastern Conference cellar and plenty of players who want out of town, the mantra around Milwaukee has to be "sell, sell, sell!"

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The Milwaukee Bucks have assets stockpiled from previous deals, but because they're headed for the NBA Draft lottery and are on Team Tank, they may be looking to add more as sellers.

But with several players looking for a way out of Wisconsin, there are questions about what the Bucks could get in return for their middling talent, save Ersan Ilyasova.

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No one knows what this season's strange trade market will yield in the new landscape of the NBA and its changes to the luxury tax system. Milwaukee is in position to reap the benefits of teams' needs for depth, and with virtually nothing to compete for, the Bucks should be one of the active franchises before Thursday.

Is there a market for Gary Neal?

There has already been talk of Neal being involved in a potential trade with the Charlotte Bobcats, but it's since fallen through. But where there's smoke, there's fire, and there's a good amount of heat surrounding Neal's name when it comes to trade rumors.

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Neal is in the prime of his career and can be a spot-up shooter off the bench who can help a playoff team looking for some wing help. Given the recent developments out of Los Angeles, it's not hard to envision the Clippers taking a shot at him in the wake of J.J. Redick's injury. In addition to his shooting, which any contender can use, Neal's salary of $3.25 million is modest enough to where teams can justify absorbing it for some short-term relief.

There's a market out there for the 29-year-old, and it seems like a matter of sifting through the potential deals and pulling the trigger on the deal that makes the most sense.

The Ilyasova conundrum

If the market for Ilyasova proves vibrant, it may entice the Bucks to part ways with their swing man and former second-rounder. Though he's struggled this season with averages of 13.5 points and 7.9 rebounds per 36 minutes, he's in the prime of his career at age 26 and could be the kind of per-minute producer in the right system to give a team substantial value as a rotation player.

What's more is that he has reportedly grown tired of the revolving door in Milwaukee and wants to spend his most productive years playing for a contender. If the Bucks are willing to make the move, he could net them another draft pick of value in a season that's obviously lost. The problem is, they'd be losing a future cornerstone and seeing him depart would make any rebuilding process lengthier.

Nevertheless, the Phoenix Suns are surprisingly competitive out West and could offer up the kind of package to tempt the Bucks into letting go of their home-grown product. The Spurs could also be in line to offer up a pick for Ilyasova, whose diverse skill set would fit well in Gregg Popovich's system.

How likely is a deal?

Though there are no guarantees, the Bucks are in prime position to sell whatever they can. Their future isn't next season, so they'll have time to develop the players they'll acquire through the draft. If they do "well" in the lottery, they could acquire a special player to be the face of the franchise for years to come.

No matter what, they'll have to have a long-term plan for how they want to build around said player. That could all become more apparent come Thursday if there is a deal or two in the works.

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