NBA Trade Buzz: Veteran Guard Goran Dragic Could Get Moved Before Trade Deadline
Raptors could move Dragic before trade deadline
The Goran Dragic era in the Toronto Raptors’ nest could end before it could it even get started. Dragic, who played just five games with the Raptors and started in two contests, is rumored to be in the trading block as the league approaches the trade deadline. According to a report recently put up by Doug Smith of the Toronto Sun, the Raptors are indeed fielding a lot of interest from other teams in terms of a deal that will involve the veteran scoring guard. With the trade deadline just less than a couple of weeks away, there is no denying that the possibility is almost a certainty that Dragic will find himself suiting up for another team this season.
“According to multiple NBA sources, granted anonymity because nothing has been finalized, the Raptors are finding great interest in a myriad of differently structured deals for the veteran point guard and he is almost certain to be dealt near the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline…
“No names were clear in conversations with sources here on the weekend but it is clear that, 10 days out from the deadline, general manager Bobby Webster and president/vice-chairman Masai Ujiri are being proactive in seeking deals.”
In the five games that he played for the Raptors, Dragic only logged 18.0 minutes per contest, which is his lowest average playing time since the 2010-11 NBA Season when he suited up for the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets. During his brief stint with the Raptors, the veteran scoring point guard put up averages of 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per contest, while also producing a set of shooting percentages that include a 38% overall clip from the field, a 28% clip from the three-point line, and a 100% clip from the free throw line. Of course, there is no doubt that Dragic can do better than these numbers that he put up for the Raptors. He may be past the peak years of his career, but it is also true that he can still put the ball through the hoop and attract a lot of attention from the defense, which in turn helps him dish out some assists to his teammates and make them better players on the offensive end of the floor. He has a lot of weapons in his arsenal on offense, starting from his reliable outside shooting and his creative finishes around the rim.
Dragic, who will be turning 36 years of age in May of this year, was the 45th overall pick during the 2008 NBA Draft. There were tons of hyped prospects who were selected before him, and that includes Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Danilo Gallinari, Eric Gordon, D.J. Augustin, Brook Lopez, Jerryd Bayless, Jason Thompson, Brandon Rush, Anthony Randolph, Robin Lopez, Marreese Speights, Roy Hibbert, JaVale McGee, J.J. Hickson, Ryan Anderson, Courtney Lee, Kosta Koufos, Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, George Hill, Darrell Arthur, Nikola Pekovic, Mario Chalmers, DeAndre Jordan, Omer Asik, Luc Mbah a Moute, Sonny Weems, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Henry Walker. Among the notable undrafted players in that class were Sundiata Gaines, Salah Mejri, Anthony Morrow, Timofey Mozgov, Greg Stiemsma, and Reggie Williams.
Before he entered his name to the 2008 NBA Draft, it is true that Dragic was already a household name in his native country of Slovenia. He was named as the Slovenian League Rookie of the Year in 2005, and a Slovenian League All-Star in 2006. In 2008, he won the Slovenian Supercup, the Slovenian Cup, and the Slovenian League. He would also win the FIBA Stankovic Cup Most Valuable Player in 2010, the Euroscar Player of the Year in 2017, the FIBA EuroBasket Most Valuable Player in 2017, adn the Slovenian Sportsman of the Year in 2017. In the NBA, Dragic has achieved a few individual accolades that includes the NBA Most Improved Player of the Year in 2014, an All-Star berth in 2018, and a selection to the All-NBA Third Team in 2014.
If and when he is traded to another contending team, there is no doubt that Dragic can contribute a lot on the offensive end of the floor. Most importantly, he is also willing to sacrifice his production to give his team a better shot at winning, just like when he accepted a sixth man role when he helped the Miami Heat go on a trip to the NBA Finals in 2020. As per a column written by Dan Devine for The Ringer, Dragic was able to turn his starting spot into a more valuable sixth man role for the Heat, especially if you look at the fact that he provided a much-needed scoring boost in the second unit.
Goran Dragic abdicated his starting spot due to injuries and circumstance, but transformed himself into one of the league’s best sixth men, and seized his opportunity to return to prominence in the bubble by reentering the starting lineup and fueling Miami’s always churning drive-and-kick offense. Duncan Robinson, undrafted in 2018, soaked up Spoelstra’s belief that he was an elite NBA shooter until he started to buy it himself, and became exactly that. Tyler Herro, decidedly not short on self-belief, earned Spoelstra’s trust with his work ethic and commitment, and then rewarded that trust by dominating the Celtics on the biggest stage of his basketball life. The lightly regarded Meyers Leonard and former undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn served as key complementary cogs in one of the best big-minutes lineups in the league during the regular season. They then stepped back, like rocket boosters detaching from a space shuttle, as Miami entered the bubble and Spoelstra unveiled the Heat’s final form: Bam at center; Dragic at point; some combination of Butler, Robinson, Herro, Andre Iguodala, and Jae Crowder on the wing.
(Crowder wasn’t the headline piece of the deal with Memphis that imported Iguodala, but the 30-year-old has been arguably the highest-impact acquisition that anybody made at the 2020 trade deadline; he shot 56.4 percent from 3 during the seeding games and 41.7 percent on more than eight attempts a night through Miami’s first 10 playoff games, helping provide the floor spacing that Butler, Adebayo, and Dragic needed to bust up defenses on the interior.) The post-restart Heat feature speed, shooting, smarts, playmaking, and nastiness all over. It is the perfect rotation to run Spoelstra’s revamped offense until opponents break, and to fluster them with the pressure-packing zone schemes that Spoelstra has, along with Toronto’s Nick Nurse, helped push to the vanguard of NBA defense. The Heat drew a short-handed Pacers team in Round 1, with no Domantas Sabonis and a diminished Victor Oladipo, but then they flat-out bullied the top-seeded Bucks in Round 2, sparking what could be an existential crisis in Milwaukee. And now, they’ve outclassed the Celtics, shipping another would-be favorite back home.
As for the Raptors team as a whole, there is no doubt that they can hold their own even without Dragic’s services. Scoring point guard Fred VanVleet and combo forward Pascal Siakam are certainly playing at an All-Star level, and they also have other talented pieces such as Chris Boucher, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Precious Achiuwa, OG Anunoby, and Malachi Flynn. On top of all these names, they also have an excellent mentor in head coach Nick Nurse.
As of now, the Raptors are sporting a decent record of 24 wins against 23 defeats, which is good for the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. They have won three of their last five games, including tough victories against the Washington Wizards, the Charlotte Hornets, and a tiring triple overtime win over Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, P.J. Tucker, Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, and the Miami Heat. Their next round of assignments will be two games against the Atlanta Hawks, another match with the Miami Heat, and a very difficult matchup against Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic, Ayo Dosunmu, and the outstanding Chicago Bulls.