A combo guard, McNeal was called up from the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League, where he averaged 18.1 points and 5.5 assists. He was inactive for the Jazz's game against Phoenix.
"He's played a lot of point in the D-League," coach Tyrone Corbin said, "so he's trying to make that transition from a scoring 2-man to a point guard. He's done a good job in the D-League, and we want to get a good look at him with us."
The Jazz have taken advantage of the NBA's 15-player roster limit, first adding guard Travis Leslie earlier this month and, after his contract expired, McNeal.
"I'm trying to make the most out of the opportunity," said McNeal, who is the leading scorer in Marquette University history. "Whether that be helping out in practice, if I'm fortunate enough to get any playing time in the game, whatever it may be, I just want to do whatever I can to show the organization and the coaching staff not only am I a great guy off the court, I'm able to contribute something on the court, too, if I'm given the opportunity."
McNeal played at Marquette from 2005 to 2009, teammates for four years with former Jazz guard Wesley Matthews. Matthews and McNeal remain close, he said, and much of what he knows about the Jazz is from watching Matthews, now with the Portland Trail Blazers, in his one season (2009-10) in Utah.
"I got a chance to talk to him earlier this morning right after I got done doing all the paperwork," McNeal said. "Just the type of guy he is, he was super excited for me, and just happy I was getting the opportunity just to showcase my skills and get another shot at this level."
McNeal spent training camp with the Toronto Raptors, but was waived before the season. This marks his second NBA contract after spending 10 days with the New Orleans Hornets in 2011.
Of healing and heels
Marvin Williams played Wednesday, despite suffering from right heel bursitis that he said has bothered him for "a couple of weeks."
"At this point in the season," Williams said, "we're fighting for our lives. So, there's no time to really sit out. I'm going to push through it. I've been pushing through things all year, so I'll fight through it and not worry about it."
Williams said he will play through an injury until he can't, although he missed three games earlier this year due to right knee inflammation in an effort to help the knee heal.
Mo Williams said that by this point of the season, with 10 games remaining, most guys are playing despite nagging injuries. However, Corbin said it's important to make sure players aren't exceeding their limits.
"This is a crucial time of the year," he said. "If you're hurt, and not injured, then you can play through it. But if you're injured, it's difficult. Some guys' pain threshold is different from others."
Nine Jazz players have combined to miss 86 games due to injury this season.
"This is probably the second week it's been bothering me," Marvin Williams said, "but like I said, there's no time to worry about that right now."