The San Antonio Spurs are expected to come to terms with Goran Dragic on a buyout agreement. The former All-Star has only played in five games this season for the Toronto Raptors. Despite his time away from the court, many teams are showing interest in acquiring the 35-year-old veteran. Which of these franchises has the best chance of adding Dragic to their ranks?
Potential Landing Spots for Goran Dragic
Dragic found himself in Toronto along with Precious Achiuwa via a sign-and-trade that sent Kyle Lowry to the Heat. Three months into his tenure, Dragic stepped away from the Raptors to attend to a personal matter. The Raptors stated that he would stay in basketball shape during his time away from the team. Prior to this year’s trade deadline, the Spurs acquired Dragic and a 2022 first-round pick in exchange for Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks, and a second-round pick in 2022. Following the trade, it was reported that Dragic and the Spurs would begin negotiations.
The LA Clippers were active during the deadline, moving assets in multiple trades and acquiring Norman Powell from the Portland Trail Blazers. The Clippers have been plagued with injuries this season, namely to their star duo Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. This team is still in the mix for the Play-In Tournament and after acquiring Powell and Robert Covington, they could be setting themselves up for a first-round matchup with the Phoenix Suns or Golden State Warriors.
Dragic would help this team in a playoff run if he is indeed ready to get back on the court. The Clippers could benefit from additional depth in the backcourt. Dragic still has the ability to run an offense and would give the Clippers another option from beyond the arc.
The defending champs have been mentioned in several buyout rumors since the deadline. The Bucks were also active last week, adding Serge Ibaka to strengthen their frontcourt. As a part of that deal, Milwaukee sent away Donte DiVincenzo. Dragic could fill the void left by DiVincenzo, at least offensively. While DiVincenzo is the superior defender at this stage in their careers, Dragic shoots a bit better from the outside.
The Chicago Bulls have tied for the second-best record in the Eastern Conference as of writing. This team is incredibly talented in the backcourt but with injuries to Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball, depth is currently a bit of an issue. Ball appears to be trending towards a late-March return and Dragic could help keep the Bulls on track in the meantime. He would also be able to provide valuable minutes in the playoffs for a team without a ton of winning experience in the postseason.
While the Miami Heat were not included in the list of initial buyout candidates, the trade between the Raptors and the Spurs now allows Dragic to re-sign with the Heat after a buyout should the two sides be looking to reconnect. The former 45th overall draft pick has his best years in Miami, averaging career highs in points (16.2), assists (5.2), and rebounds (3.6) in his time on South Beach. Dragic also made his only All-Star appearance as a member of the Heat in 2018. If reunited, Dragic and the Heat would look to repeat the postseason success that saw them in the NBA Finals in 2020.
If the rumors are true, then the Dallas Mavericks are likely the favorite in the Dragic sweepstakes. This is likely due to his personal relationship with Mavericks’ All-Star and Slovenian teammate, Luka Doncic. The duo of Dragic and Doncic dominated the 2017 FIBA EuroBasket Championship, a tournament that named Dragic its MVP.
The issue with this pairing is now playing time after the Mavericks’ shocking trade with the Washington Wizards. Dallas sent Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. Relevant to Dragic, Dinwiddie clogs us a backcourt that already has Doncic and Jalen Brunson. The injury to Tim Hardaway Jr. might make a Dragic signing more beneficial to the Mavericks, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of opportunities here for him. Dragic may be happy mentoring his younger friend en route to a title run, but the lackluster return for Porzingis rules that out for this season.
Will Dragic Deliver?
No matter where Dragic signs, he will have to show that he can still deliver in short spurts, likely in key moments of a playoff push. We don’t have much to scout this season, but Dragic performed well in his last outing. He scored 16 points in 28 minutes for the Raptors on November 13, 2021. While he can be a liability on defense, the offensive ability and basketball IQ of ‘the dragon’ make him a valuable asset to a contender with room for him.
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