1:44pm: The move is official, the team announced.
11:12am: The Wizards are in the process of waiving Gary Neal, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The combo guard has been dealing with a leg injury affecting his right quadriceps and hip that’s expected to keep him out for a few more weeks, Stein notes (ESPN Now link), and he hasn’t appeared in a game since February 6th. Neal, who’s on a one-year contract worth $2.139MM, is one of 15 players currently with Washington, so the move will give the team the roster flexibility necessary to accommodate its reported deal with Marcus Thornton.
Washington signed Neal using the biannual exception this past summer after holding interest that reportedly dated back to last year’s buyout market. He shot well when healthy this season, knocking down 41.0% of his 3-point attempts as he averaged 9.8 points in 20.2 minutes per game across 40 appearances. However, the Wizards have an immediate need at two guard as Bradley Beal fights through a short-term hip injury, so it appears the team simply isn’t willing to wait for Neal to return to action.
Neal’s full salary will stick on Washington’s books if he clears waivers, though the team has already given him the majority of his salary and owes him just a few more paychecks at this point in the season. Portland ostensibly has motivation to add someone to reach the salary floor, but the Blazers are less than $1MM from that figure and wouldn’t necessarily benefit financially from claiming Neal.
Unless Neal re-signs with the Wizards, a prospect that seems unlikely, he won’t be eligible for the playoffs, since he’ll be hitting waivers after March 1st.