NBA rumors: Goran Dragic chose Nets over Bucks and Clippers thanks to Steve Nash

Dragic also met with the Bucks, including general manager Jon Horst, owner Marc Lasry and head coach Mike Budenholzer. The Clippers also flew to Miami to meet with Dragic in person over the weekend. Simply put, I was told by a source close to Dragic, “If it wasn’t for Nash, Dragic would be either with the Bucks or Clippers. Nash’s impact on Goran’s decision couldn’t be overstated.”

More on Goran Dragic Free Agency

Scotto: Dragic’s decision came down to his personal relationship with Steve Nash, who mentored him in Phoenix. I’m told the opportunity to play with such elite talent in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons appealed to Dragic. He’s viewed as the pure point guard they need. Nash met with Dragic in Miami on Saturday. Sean Marks was there as well. I’m told Nash outlined his plan for Dragic and how he’ll fit in with the team during that meeting. I’m told there was no specific promise in terms of playing time, but there is an understanding there between the two men that he’ll be an important piece of that team.
The Brooklyn Nets have signed free agent guard Goran Dragić. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not released. In a related transaction, Brooklyn has requested waivers on guard Jevon Carter.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Nets are waiving guard Jevon Carter to clear a roster spot for Goran Dragic, sources tell ESPN. Dragic's agent Bill Duffy tells ESPN that Dragic's deal will be for the rest of the season.
Shams Charania: Just in: Goran Dragic is signing with the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Word is Dragic was determined to spend at least a week evaluating the teams chasing him the hardest (Milwaukee, Brooklyn, Chicago, Golden State and the LA Clippers) and one source close to the process described as him as "really open-minded" to the pitches he's getting. The Bucks notably have a significant backcourt role to offer, on top of their proven championship stock, while the Nets have Coach Steve Nash, who mentored Dragic in Phoenix when the Slovenian broke into the NBA, entrenched as their lead recruiter. League sources say Nash registered key aspects of the Nets’ bid to Dragic on Friday as Brooklyn also maintains hope that Kyrie Irving will be more available for the stretch run if the vaccine mandate that has ruled him out of home games all season is finally lifted in New York City.
As Wojnarowski reported, the Bucks have been very aggressive in trying to sign Goran Dragić. “They need guard depth. There’s an opportunity for Goran Dragić to come in, play some meaningful minutes for the Bucks and certainly have a chance to have a run in the playoffs. … Dragic, I think, is closer to a decision but Milwaukee’s been aggressive and they can offer him, not just a chance at being a part of the defending champions, but a chance to play a pretty significant role and I think that’s really been their sell to him, Mike Budenholzer and Jon Horst, as they talk to him.”
In that report, Wojnarowski does clarify that the Bucks aren’t the only team after Dragic (as you’d expect). The Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, and even the Los Angeles Lakers have all been involved with Dragić as well.
The Mavericks could arrange a reunion now that Dragic has reportedly agreed to a contract buyout with the Spurs to become a mid-season free agent. But general manager Nico Harrison said after the trade deadline he didn’t plan to make another roster move. Doncic hasn’t pushed any more for his fellow Slovenian to join him — yet. “He’s my guy,” Doncic said. “Everybody would want their guys on their team, so we’ll see.”
Keith Smith: Although it was announced yesterday, it appears Goran Dragic was actually waived by the Spurs on Monday. That means Dragic will clear waivers at 5PM ET today, assuming he's not claimed. The Oklahoma City Thunder are the only team with the ability to claim Dragic off waivers.
And there certainly are spots elsewhere that could guarantee more playoff-race playing time than the Heat. — But also consider that Dragic has regularly been working out in South Florida at Stan Remy’s gym. — Including working with Markieff Morris, as the sidelined Heat forward sought more work. — Dragic also has been a regular at FTX Arena, including while still on Toronto’s roster.
Shams Charania: Goran Dragic has agreed to a contract buyout with the Spurs and is entering free agency, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium. A slew of teams will now pursue the 14-year veteran.
Adrian Wojnarowski: In the aftermath of the Donte DiVincenzo trade and Connaughton injury, the Bucks will be aggressive in pursuit of Goran Dragic once he enters the buyout market next week, sources said. There will be significant opportunity for Dragic to play a role on the defending champions.
Marc Stein: Dallas' roster needs changed post-trade and altered the long-held expectation they would pursue Goran Dragic in the buyout market. As I reported earlier, Dragic's expected buyout may not happen quickly and he is projected to draw interest from teams with a larger role to offer.
While there are some hurdles in the way of Dragic potentially returning to the Heat, it certainly sounds like Miami is where the 35-year-old wants to be. “Don’t kid yourself, Goran Dragic would love nothing more,” wrote Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel regarding a possible Dragic reunion with Miami. “He attended the Heat’s Tuesday victory over the [Washington] Wizards at FTX Arena and has been working out there, as his situation with the Raptors is sorted out. But, again, unless Goran goes to another team in the interim, he cannot be brought directly back by the Heat from the Raptors. With all due respect to Mario Chalmers, Goran is exactly what the Heat could use at the moment. But I doubt many, if any, have had second thoughts about utilizing his salary as the means to acquire Kyle Lowry.”
The Mavericks remain confident Dragic will end up on the roster one way or another. I won’t rehash the mechanics of how he could end up here or why Toronto hasn’t budged as of yet, but you can re-read my conversation with Blake Murphy last month.
Jordan Schultz: Contrary to reports, sources tell me Goran Dragic will NOT sign with the #Mavs. Furthermore, I’m also told the #Raptors and Dragic have yet to even entertain talks of a buyout. Dragic, 35, earned Third-Team All-NBA honors and the league’s Most Improved Player in 2014.
Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic, two of Slovenia’s greatest players, might be teaming up with the Mavs according to this report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Via Bleacher Report: “All my sources around the league have told me they expect Goran Dragic to be bought out by the Toronto Raptors and swiftly sign with the Dallas Mavericks.”
The Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade to Miami isn't in doubt, but it appears the reason it hasn't been officially completed yet is that Toronto is now trying to re-home Goran Dragic. In statements to the media, Dragic expressed a desire to join the Mavericks and play with Luka Doncic, something Dallas is known to be interested in as well. To join as a third team in that deal, Dallas would have to send at least $14.4 million in salary to Toronto, something most easily done by combining Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein. But that's also where it gets complicated.
Dallas wouldn't want to do that because Powell is beloved around the organization, and losing two centers in the same transaction would thin the team's depth. The Mavs also don't want to replace Cauley-Stein with one of their prospects in Josh Green or Tyrell Terry. But Toronto likely views Dragic, a proven veteran on an expiring deal, as a positive asset. Dallas wants him, so why shouldn't it give something up? That's the current limbo it's easy to imagine both teams in right now. One possible solution is Dallas finding an expendable player Toronto does want and using a recently acquired trade exception (TPE) to bring something more conducive to the Raptors' likings.
Barry Jackson: As we and others have written, and the great Woj reiterated today, Lowry remains Heat high priority target. Looms as Heat/Pelicans/Mavericks battle, with Knicks and 76ers also potentially in play. The decision to exercise Dragic option suggests Toronto might be OK taking him back
“Even if you can’t get him, Goran Dragic. There’s so many guards out there that I think you you get. But for me right now you need a guy like Kyle Lowry, a dog that’s mentally tough that’s gonna say ‘LeBron, get off the ball I got the ball and I’m gonna bring it down and get everybody in the set and we’re gonna run this thing and win a championship.’ So Kyle Lowry is the only guy that I see or Dragic. Those are the top two for me.”
If the Heat declines Dragic’s option for next season, he will become an unrestricted free agent but Miami will still retain his Bird rights and can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him up to his maximum salary. This would probably only be done by the Heat to bring back Dragic at a lower salary than the $19.4 million option in his contract. “At times, it haunts me. I don’t know, I see the Lakers and I just remember,” Dragic said of injuring his foot early in last year’s championship series as the Heat fell two wins short of a title. “It’s one of those situations that it’s still painful. But it is what it is. I accepted it. I dealt with it. It’s in the past, so let’s move on.”
Goran Dragic: I'm glad that I can announce that I'm staying with my #HeatNationFamily ⁦@MiamiHEAT⁩ Let’s finish the job we started!!! #LetsGoHeatnation #heatnation #heatfamily #305
The Miami Heat previously showed interest in the Italian forward at the trade deadline. If Giannis Antetokounmpo signs an extension with Milwaukee, some around the league expect Miami to extend Bam Adebayo, try to bring back Goran Dragic, and upgrade at forward. That could open the door for Gallinari to land with Miami as a free agent on a multi-year deal.
Goran Dragic sits down on @Stadium: Leadership and sacrifice, revealing he is now fully recovered from the plantar fascia tear he suffered in the Finals, desire to stay in Miami while listening to offers in free agency and more. — Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 13, 2020 “For me, the most important thing is that I be respected because I put a lot of hard work in my game, and I think I play hard,” Dragic said. “So, of course, I know Miami wants to bring me back. I’m hoping we can finish this championship run next season, but I know this is part of the business. “It’s a lot of options here and we’ll see. I’m open to all suggestions, and from there on, we’re gonna see which one is the best possibility for me and for my family. So, yeah, Miami’s up there. They were great to me and we’ll see. Hopefully, we can make a deal.”
Dragic’s role in helping the Heat reach the NBA Finals last month was marred by the fact that he missed a good portion of that series due to injury. Despite making the Finals, he mentioned (beginning at the 6:10 mark) to NBA insider Shams Charania that he could end up elsewhere for the 2020-21 campaign. “For me, the most important thing is that I be respected because I put a lot of hard work in my game, and I think I play hard,” Dragic said. “So, of course, I know Miami wants to bring me back. I’m hoping we can finish this championship run next season, but I know this is part of the business. “It’s a lot of options here and we’ll see. I’m open to all suggestions, and from there on, we’re gonna see which one is the best possibility for me and for my family. So, yeah, Miami’s up there. They were great to me and we’ll see. Hopefully, we can make a deal.”
“The main thing for me is to get respected. I put a lot of hard work in this, in my game and I think I play hard. Of course, I know Miami wants to bring me back and I’m hoping we can finish this championship run next season. But I know this is a part of the business and there are a lot of options here. We’ll see. I’m open to all suggestions and from there on, we’ll see which one is the best for me and my family. Miami is up there, they were great to me and hopefully, we can make a deal,” he told Shams Charania.
Dragic turned 34 years old in May and the age along with the injuries impacted coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to use the Slovenian veteran off the bench as the sixth man. He didn’t accept it easily but he was full of understanding and eventually accepted it. “When you play for so long as a starter… it was tough to accept that but at the same time I knew I was coming off an injury, I’m not young anymore and maybe this was something I need to take in and try to do it.”
Miami has interest in re-signing Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder, but the Heat won't do anything that jeopardizes their chances with Antetokounmpo. (The list of such things might include asking Bam Adebayo to wait until next offseason to sign his new contract -- a way of maximizing cap space for Antetokounmpo. Adebayo and Antetokounmpo share an agent -- Alex Saratsis of Octagon. This is tricky stuff, but I assume everyone will communicate what they need to communicate.)
In that respect, Dragic holds a unique advantage in his situation. If he signs a one-year contract, he would receive the right to veto any trade in 2020-21. Also, because of his tenure in the league and with the Heat, he is eligible for a no-trade clause. “We don’t know what the future holds with this virus and everything and when the league is going to start,” he said. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty in the future.”
Unfortunately for the Bucks, the 2020 free-agent class is shallow, and they don’t have much salary cap flexibility aside from the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, projected to be worth about $10 million annually. A player like Fred VanVleet is well out of their range. Goran Dragic also could be too pricey, and league front office sources expect him to stay in Miami anyway.
Barry Jackson: Jimmy Butler on Dragic: "That's my guy", calls him one of his all-time favorite teammates. Heat assuredly will make Dragic another sizable one-year offer this offseason
Dragic’s value in the locker room is highly regarded as well as is his influence on the Heat’s young core. Even on a one-year deal, it would be difficult for the Heat to offer Dragic a contract close to the $19.2 million he is making this season (if that’s what it takes to keep him) and still have enough to pursue other roster upgrades. They could try perhaps a two-year deal to reduce the cap hit and not cut too much into 2021 space.
Dragic, who will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, is one of those who will have a decision to make. The 33-year-old is in the fifth and final year of the $85 million deal he signed with the Heat in the summer of 2015, and he has a salary of $19.2 million this season as Miami’s second-highest paid player behind only Jimmy Butler. “Right now, if I’m honest, I’m not even thinking about free agency,” Dragic said. “I have so many different problems. My uncle is stuck here in the U.S. I’m trying to get him back to his home country, so I’m on the phone 24/7 basically with the government. It’s just a crazy situation for me and my family. I just want to be done with that, and hopefully when this virus is done then I can think about my future and free agency and everything.”
The Bulls have been putting both point guard Goran Dragic and small forward Derrick Jones Jr. under the microscope the last month, and are hoping the new hire – or hires – will be aggressive on the trade front to move a tight cap corner that they have painted themselves into.
In the days before the NBA suspended its season, Dragic said it’s premature to consider whether a bloated one-year offer would appeal to him, though he likes playing and living here. “We’ll see,” Dragic said when asked about a one-year scenario. “A lot of different factors, my family, myself. I would say it’s too soon to talk about it. I’m not thinking about my next contract. I’ve always been a guy in the present.”
But he also made clear he’s content in the bench role that coach Erik Spoelstra asked him to handle this season. “I am happy,” he said. “I am enjoying the game. At the start of the season, it was tough to accept that. I’m a competitive guy. Of course, when you get the news, you have some doubts, some crazy thoughts. But the main thing was for me to accept it and think positively and make it the best scenario for me. I did that. I’m proud of myself.”
With their eyes set on 2021 maximum cap space, they are unlikely to offer free-agent targets more than a one-year deal. One player they can target with all their cap space is Danilo Gallinari, whom they pursued in February. $26.5 million is close to the maximum amount Gallinari can receive in a contract extension. If they can’t sign any of their targets, they could operate over the cap to re-sign free agents like Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder and also have the mid-level exception to use.
Dragic has also made adjustments to his game that should help prolong his playing career. His drives to the basket are down and he’s attempting a career-high 5.7 threes per game this season, and he’s shooting them efficiently with the league’s ninth-best three-point shooting percentage among players who are taking five or more threes per game. “I think I can still play three or four years easy,” said Dragic, who’s in the fifth and final season of the $85 million deal he signed in the summer of 2015 and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason. “Of course, it all depends how my health is going to be. So far, so good. I’m doing everything right, what they’re telling me to do to prepare my body and to be fresh. If I’m going to continue to play like this and feel like this, it’s going to be good.”
Dragic is quick to remind reporters he’s not that old yet. Lakers superstar forward LeBron James is actually almost two years older than Dragic. “Sometimes when a lot of people are saying that, basically they put that in your head,” Dragic said of people calling him old. “I’m like, ‘C’mon man. I’m not that old. I still can hoop. I still can play. I’m still in good shape.’ It’s just a number. That’s how I look at it. Of course, you need to prepare yourself differently, eat differently. But it’s part of the game, and I like it.”
“I think I can still play three or four years easy,” said Dragic, who’s in the fifth and final season of the $85 million deal he signed in the summer of 2015 and is set to become an unrestricted free agent this upcoming offseason. “Of course, it all depends how my health is going to be. So far, so good. I’m doing everything right, what they’re telling me to do to prepare my body and to be fresh. If I’m going to continue to play like this and feel like this, it’s going to be good.”
Dragic can also control his future next summer when he becomes a free agent. But he’s not thinking that far ahead right now. “If I’m honest, I don’t even think about it, because I’m more in the present, because I’m trying to get back to being healthy this year,” he said. “So this is my priority, just to stay focused and do my job. And when the time is going to come, then I’m going to think about my future. So, it doesn’t make sense to think it right now, because the season still didn’t start. And I haven’t felt how my body is going to react. So, we’ll see.”
League sources told Sporting News this week that one team to watch in the Conley hunt is Miami, which is waiting on Goran Dragic's decision on his $19 million player option for next year. Heat president Pat Riley has long coveted Conley - Miami was interested in signing Conley before he re-signed with Memphis three years ago - and still wants to bring him to South Florida.
An associate of Dragic said he would be very surprised if Dragic does not opt into the final year of his Heat contract but said it ultimately comes down to this: Dragic very much likes playing for the Heat and it’s a good situation for him. The question is whether an incredible different situation should present himself before his June 29 opt-out date. That could mean a championship contender or another appealing team hinting to him or his associates, through back-channels, that he should opt out and that a rich multiyear contract awaits. Though players under contract cannot talk to other teams before July 1, it’s common for messages to be discreetly delivered in general terms.
Goran Dragic has a decision to make this offseason: Opt out for possibly one final multiyear contract or wait another year before becoming a free agent. The point guard isn’t ready to make that decision. “I didn’t think about it,” Dragic said during a Friday afternoon appearance where he surprised guests and bought them lunch at a Doral Chick-fil-A as part of the “Random Acts of Heat” initiative. “I was just at home having a good time with my kids. I had a meeting with Pat [Riley] and that was it. I told him I’m going to make my decision when that comes. So I still need to talk to the family, the agent.
“Right now, I just wanted to have at least two weeks to one month completely off, enjoy my vacation with them. When it’s going to be time for business, we’re going to sit down and talk.” Dragic, who turns 33 on May 6, has until June 29 to decide on the player option in his contract for next season worth $19.2 million. He just finished the fourth season of a five-year, $85 million deal he signed with the Heat in the summer of 2015.
Out for dinner this week, Dragic was approached by about a dozen people seeking autographs or selfies — plus one who wanted him to have a video chat with a child home studying. Dragic never complained, routinely getting up from his soup, salad, broiled snapper and cappuccino nightcap to accommodate every request. "This is where I want to be," Dragic said. "Everything here, it's the way I want it."
The Lakers originally viewed Heat guard Goran Dragic as a free-agency target. But they changed their mind after falling in love with Russell in pre-draft workouts and holding optimism they could land a front-court player in free-agency. “I didn’t think about it. The Miami Heat came first and they offered a good deal,” said Dragic, who re-signed with the Heat to a five-year contract worth $90 million. “This was the right place for me and my family. It’s a winning culture here and they are doing an amazing job.”
Which players did you focus on? Phil Jackson: "Goran Dragic, for one. I heard through the grapevine that he was open to coming here. We worked hard on that possibility, but the asking price was too dear. Maybe we worked on that possibility so much so that it distracted us. I mean, Dragic is every team's current choice for a nuclear option -- a guard who can penetrate and either score or kick. Guys like Chris Paul and James Harden. But, anyway, that's not really the way I want us to play."
That’s less than the $115 million Miami can offer but more than the four years and $86 million that another team can offer. The Heat and the Dragic camp remain optimistic a deal will get done with Miami.
Amid an ESPN report that the Heat will offer Goran Dragic a five-year deal in excess of $80 million, we hear the proposal is actually expected to be five years for between $90 million and $100 million.
The Miami Heat already know Goran Dragic is bypassing his player option for next season to become a free agent July 1, but league sources say they plan to be highly aggressive in trying to secure a commitment from their new point guard early in free agency.
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Goran Dragic talked to the Slovenian press before Saturday’s prep game against Montenegro and explained his motivation about his return to the Slovenian national team. “I predict the semi-finals, but then anything is possible”, said a smiling Dragic, who is ready to defend the title he won together with a young Luka Doncic back in 2017. However, after five years things are different and Dragic understands it: “In my opinion, I will play a little less minutes, it will not be at that level. I don’t know how much I played, 36 minutes per game? Everything will depend on how I feel. The role will definitely be different. I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin. The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult. My role remains the same, Luka’s may have changed a bit more, but I believe that everyone has their own role in the national team and that there will be no problems. We all understand each other, we are one big team, and that’s why we can make a good result. That chemistry is what other teams don’t have.”
Dragic had also to convince the Chicago Bulls to let him play, something that was not ideal for them: “When I had a medical exam with Chicago and sat down with them, they said I’d rather not play. I said I’d rather and in the end it’s the player who decides. I had to go to Chicago, undergo a medical examination and everything else. When you go to a medical examination, you always wait for the results, because you never know what can happen”.