Goran Dragic has informed the Phoenix Suns that he will not re-sign with them upon becoming a free agent this summer. Dragic, who is averaging 16.2 points, 4.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and shooting 50.1 percent from the field, is apparently unwilling to continue sharing a backcourt with Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas.
With Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline approaching, Suns general manager Ryan McDonough is in a tough spot. He wants to get as much value as possible for Dragic, but he’s not exactly in a position of negotiating power with other teams.
Can McDonough salvage this? What can he do to bring back some semblance of balance for his asset?
“He’s in a tough spot, yes,” CBS Sports NBA Insider Ken Berger said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “The agent (Bill Duffy) is obviously trying to play the leverage game, and that’s a tried and true tactic. But let’s not forget that Goran Dragic, when you become a free agent, the only place you can get the fifth year and the extra money is with the existing team. So Ryan McDonough’s best play perhaps – and maybe his only option – is to play the game of chicken out to the end. And say, ‘Okay, Bill Duffy and Goran Dragic, let’s see if going to Miami, New York or the Lakers is worth $30 million to you.’ (Maybe) that’s his play.”
Whatever happens, Dragic, 28, is one of the more underrated players in basketball – his 2014 All-NBA Third Team selection notwithstanding.
“I think he’s terrific,” Berger said. “He handles the ball, he makes plays for other people, he makes other people better, he can go get his own shot, he can shoot the three – he’s a terrific guy to have running your team or as part of a multi-faceted backcourt. And that’s what a lot of backcourts have become in the NBA. The problem in Phoenix is there are just too many cooks in the kitchen. They have too many point guards. If anything, what Dragic is doing is probably undervalued at this point – because he’d be getting more opportunities and more minutes and more time with the ball in his hands if he were on a more traditional team with a point guard and a shooting guard.”
It appears that Dragic would like to play in a bigger market, such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami or Boston – even though the franchises in those cities are in rebuilding mode.
“He’s targeting big, glamorous cities,” Berger said. “That has been one of the things the NBA tried to fix in the lockout a few years ago with free agency. As much of a home-team advantage that they try to create, free agents always want to go to big cities, to major markets – and that’s still the case. Miami is not necessarily a top-10 or top-five city in terms of population, but there’s no arguing that it isn’t a free agent destination with what’s happened there the last few years.
“Where he winds up, if anywhere, depends on whether he gets moved before the deadline or whether he goes the free-agent route,” Berger continued. “Because once you’re a free agent, you can go wherever you want as long as they have cap space.”