We all knew that the Charlotte front office had been burning up the phones this week to land offensive help before the trade deadline. Today, they manufactured a trade that will bring guards Gary Neal and Luke Ridnour to the Bobcats in exchange for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien.
Losing Sessions to mainly bolster three-point shooting is what will be debated the most about this trade, but it ends up making sense for Charlotte due to the fact that this ends up being a 2-for-1 deal, essentially. Losing Ramon won’t make any Bobcats fan do backflips, but Charlotte will get back Luke Ridnour, who will immediately become the team’s backup point-guard + Gary Neal will now give this roster a dead-eye shooting guard who can come off the bench and score points in volume. Jeff Adrien, who I’m very sad to see go, was simply added into this trade to make the salaries balance out – in essence, defining the 2-for-1 deal for Charlotte.
Gary Neal is a 39.3% three-point shooter over his four-year NBA career. Although Neal has not been good in Milwaukee this season, he also hasn’t been happy being there and the Bucks deciding to sign him last summer simply didn’t pay off. He’s averaged 10 PPG, 1.7 APG & 1.4 RPG this season – in summary, he’s on the floor to do one thing and one thing only – score the ball. Defensively, Neal will frustrate you at times. He likes to gamble for steals and looks to leak out – this leads to the 29-year old blowing defensive assignments from time-to-time. Playing in Charlotte under Clifford will be an interesting setting for Neal, but considering the fact that he wanted out of Milwaukee and has been granted that wish, you would like to think the effort will be there. Neal will have one more year left on his contract after this one worth $3.2 million.
Luke Ridnour shouldn’t be asked to do a ton for the Bobcats. If Kemba is healthy for the remainder of the year, he’s going to log anywhere from 33-40 minutes on a nightly basis, so Ridnour will simply have to come in to be a ‘game manager’. What Ridnour doesn’t bring to the table that Sessions did is the ability to get to the free-throw line at a very high rate. What he does bring to the table, opposed to Sessions, is the ability to space the floor and knock down three’s. Ridnour is a 35.1% shooter from behind-the-arc for his career. Ridnour also has a 4/1 assist-to-turnover ratio for his career in the league, and again, he’s basically going to be asked to come in and manage games while Kemba rests. Ridnour has an expiring contract, so he’s likely only a half season rental for Charlotte in their playoff push.
This trade will have it’s critics, but at the core of the deal is the idea that the Bobcats gain three-point shooting + floor spacing, while sacrificing free-throw shooting and a guy that attacks the rim as hard as any point-guard in this league (Sessions).
Personally, I’m not sure how much this trade really moves the needle. It all rests in the hands of just how productive Gary Neal can be for this team since Charlotte is now committed to his $3.2 million next season, while Sessions was expiring and would have been coming off the books. Is it a good trade for the Bobcats? Meh, maybe. Is it a bad trade for them? No, not necessarily. Here’s hoping that Neal can rediscover the three-point shooting touch (42%) that he had in San Antonio his first two seasons (’10-’12) in the NBA.