Point guard Goran Dragic went to Suns management and said he was not re-signing with the team this summer — he wanted to be traded. More than that, he gave them a list of places he wanted to be traded to, including the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks or Miami Heat.
But if the Suns are going to trade him, they only care about what they will get back in return. With that, they have ignored Dragic’s list and talked to teams with more to offer — the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings, and Houston Rockets are on that list.
What those teams believe is they can change Dragic’s mind for two reasons. First, they will show him how good their team culture is. Second, as they will pick up his Bird Rights in the trade whichever team has Dragic after the trade deadline can offer one additional year and, with raises, more than $25 million more guaranteed. (Note, that is assuming he gets a max contract with his next deal, which is no sure thing.)
But Dragic doesn’t care about the money, according to a report from Sam Amick of the USA Today.
But according to a person with knowledge of his situation, the fifth year is not a factor for Dragic as he weighs his uncertain future. Dragic has been smart with his money, it seems, and the allure of the extra guaranteed year is not expected to have any sway on his free agency decision. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.
Dragic appears far more concerned with the fit with his future team, about being on a playoff contender or — in the cases of the Lakers and Knicks — about helping one of the league’s flagship franchises get back on its feet.
I don’t know Amick’s source, but I do know this:
This is exactly what someone in Dragic’s camp trying to scare off those other teams, the franchises where Dragic doesn’t want to land, would say. True or not, this is an attempt to spin those talks, to put doubts in the suitors minds.
But the Suns aren’t going to deal with the Knicks and Lakers, they simply do not have the assets to get a trade done (and frankly both know they don’t have to give up assets, they can make their pitch this summer). Miami is in better shape to deal but not a great space.
All of which is to say, some team may call Dragic’s bluff. Is he really willing to leave $20-$25 million (depending on the contract) in guaranteed money on the table? In four years it’s highly unlikely he could get that big a deal as a free agent, at age 28 this is his one last big kick at the can. I don’t care how well you managed your money, that’s a lot of money to potentially walk away from.
Dragic’s future is the best story of this trade deadline, but it also could be the best one of July also.