Just a year ago, an unknown guard out of Towson joined the San Antonio Spurs summer league squad in Vegas and earned a multi-year deal, eventually becoming a household name in San Antonio and getting national attention when he was chosen to play in the Rookie Challenge during Alll-Star Weekend.
If you thought Neal had nothing else to prove now that he has a firm spot as a role player with the Spurs once the season resumes, you thought wrong.
Neal is working just as hard if not harder this summer, and although he's nowhere near Vegas, he's still playing summer league ball in Washington D.C.'s famed Goodman League.
According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, Neal said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford told Neal not to rest on his laurels and that he should expect some time backing up Tony Parker at point guard next season with the trade of George Hill to Indiana.
Before he left San Antonio for the summer, Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford told him he had to keep working on his game and not be satisfied. Now that George Hill has been traded to Indiana, Neal says he was told to expect some minutes next season backing up Tony Parker at point guard. The Goodman may be the only chance for him to try that new position before the Spurs get together again for training camp. He can't do any work with Popovich, who was hands-on last summer with Richard Jefferson. The only hands on Neal these days are his Goodman opponents.
But aside from continuing to work on his game and learning to play a different position, Neal has to work just as hard in a league filled with current NBA and college players, including Thunder forward Kevin Durant among others.