Analyzing and grading the Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour trade for the Bobcats

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

What's the scoop on how Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour have been playing this year? And what impact might they make in Charlotte?

I don't know about you, but I haven't watched the Bucks much this season. I don't mean to offend, but after the past few seasons, I don't particularly like to watch bottom of the barrel basketball unless I have to. So truth be told, I don't know exactly what to expect from the two newest Bobcats, Luke Ridnour and Gary Neal.

What little I do know about them is limited. Neal is a pretty good shooter, but not a great ballhandler and not one to play point guard. The Spurs tried, but it wasn't particularly effective. I haven't seen Ridnour play in a while, but I recall him playing mostly out of the pick and roll on offense. Though not a dynamic passer, he has been able to come off the bench and handle an offense as a facilitator fairly well. Both can shoot the three but have taken pretty big falls statistically in the past year. But it seems likely that playing on such a team lacking talent and hope could drag down performance from a player's normal averages.

With that in mind, I asked Jon Hartzell of Bucksketball and NBA.com for what we should know about Ridnour and Neal.

Ridnour

He's still very good at running an offense, as long as there's some talent around him, which there wasn't in Milwaukee. He's currently in the middle of the worst shooting season of his career (38.4 percent) and this seems to be a combination of age, lack of commitment and injury troubles. Ridnour never really seemed on board with the squad in Milwaukee, especially as the losses mounted. He's missed 17 games so far this season, mostly due to an ailing back. But this is the same guy who started all 82 games for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season, so his body has mostly held up outside of back soreness. When healthy and motivated, Ridnour is the king of PUJIT (pull up jumpers in transition). It takes a while to realize that these shots usually go in for him, and you'll definitely curse his name a few times, but it will quickly be apparent that this is a big part of his game. 

Ridnour can still facilitate an offense as long as there is offense to facilitate. I'd be surprised if he can't effectively run Charlotte's second-unit.

His biggest weakness is his age, which leads to his back injuries and lack of quickness. The injuries have been a problem this year and he may not be able to play major minutes. But y'all really don't need him to anyway. Another weakness is defense. He's far from inept. However, he won't bring many positives traits to the defensive table.

Neal

For your own mental health's sake, do not play Gary Neal at point guard. He has the ability to shoot very well and is an asset if that's all he's on the floor to do. But things get ugly when you ask him to make plays. He averages 1.3 turnovers in just 20.2 minutes per game. Gross.

I think just like Ridnour and Ersan Ilyasova and O.J. Mayo and Caron Butler, Neal suffered a dip in production this season simply because of the chaos in Milwaukee. For most of the season, no one on the team has been given a clear role and Neal has arguably been handled the worst. He's received multiple DNP-CDs throughout the season and vocally complained about his playing time. When he played more early in the season, he shot better (49.1 percent from 3-point over his first 14 games). Give him some consistency, and he will return the favor. 

Neal is best used spotting up, like he mostly did during his time in San Antonio. The Bucks tried to use him as a main offensive weapon and it flamboyantly failed. He's a pretty limited player, but as was seen during the 2013 NBA Finals, he can get hot and win y'all a game or two. 

Like Ridnour, the weakness is defense. He has better size at the guard spot than Ridnour, but is still too easily beat off the dribble. Despite his lack of quickness, his flaws could be decently hidden within a good defensive system like what is in place in Charlotte. Hide him on defense, only rely on his jump shot, don't give him the ball in transition, and you should be fine.

In analyzing this trade, I'm looking at it from a viewpoint of the risk taken and possible reward to come.

From a basketball standpoint, the Bobcats have gone a bit more conventional and balanced on their bench with these additions. Ridnour should be able to manage ballhandling duties off the bench and Neal gives them an off-ball shooting threat at shooting guard. Previously, the Bobcats had to utilize Sessions and Walker simultaneously because they had no adequate shooting guard to soak up minutes off the bench.

It's not all In Rainbows and OK Computers, though. Without Sessions, the Bobcats will have a big hole in their ability to draw fouls, which did a lot to put opponents in foul trouble individually and as a team, putting the Bobcats in the bonus often. Sessions, for better or for worse, could create his own shot, though at the cost of getting tunnel vision at times. The new reserves don't have that ability, but it's possible the Bobcats won't miss it much due to the big gap in shooting ability. Sessions' 22 percent shooting from downtown dragged his True Shooting percentage -- a metric of shooting efficiency that takes into consideration the added value of 3-pointers and free throws -- down nearly to the same level of efficiency as Neal's.

Neal and Ridnour, of course, also give the Bobcats some range shooting they need to help space their offense. We and pretty much everyone who follows the team have discussed this at length, but having either one of them a pass or two away could stretch opponents' defensive rotations.

From a financial standpoint, I think it's hard to be too much against this trade for the simple fact that it has little risk. This move was purely one made for this season and has little impact beyond this spring. I can understand if you'll miss Sessions but his contract would have expired this offseason anyway.

The only player involved in this trade with a contract that lasts beyond June is Gary Neal, whose $3.25 million deal is not something that's going to significantly hinder the Bobcats' ability to work in free agency. Ridnour, Sessions, Adrien -- all of their contracts are done this season. The financial risk here is minimal. You could do so much worse than a few million dollars for a shooter.

Ultimately this trade doesn't change a whole lot of things for the Bobcats' future, whether that's two months down the road or two years. It doesn't take them to the next level for the upcoming playoffs and it probably won't make a big impact after this season.

You can take that at it's value, however. The risk is low and the possible reward is marginally higher. For some people this might be disappointing but the Bobcats gave up very little to balance out their offense and prepare for the playoffs without giving up any draft picks or taking on any bloated contracts. This was no home run deal, but the Bobcats managed to play it safe and possibly maneuver the team into a marginally better spot to prepare for the playoffs. S'alright? S'alright.

Grade: B

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