The two have been linked since long before they were on the same NBA floor. Fellow Slovenians Goran Dragic and Luka Doncic go back to an era when Doncic was barely beyond his toddler years. Dragic, who is 35 and 13 years older than Doncic, was a teenager playing with the Mavericks star’s father, Sasa.
And Dragic points out that the elder Doncic was a very good player in his own right.
“Same as Luka,” Dragic said this week. “At that time, he was playing position 4, but he could handle the ball, he could shoot 3s, he was a good passer. They got pretty similar games. Of course, now, Luka is playing more 1, 2 so he is dominating the ball but back in the day, his dad pretty much could do everything.”
Ahead of Saturday’s matchup against the Raptors, Doncic and Dragic are again linked. On the floor, obviously, the pair will face off against each other. But there remains speculation that, somehow, Dragic will find his way to Dallas this season, chatter that heated up in the offseason when Dragic was traded from Miami to Toronto. Rumors swirled that the Raptors would buy out Dragic, and the Mavs could pounce.
Did not happen, and after initially expressing skepticism about playing for Toronto, Dragic has settled in. He scored nine points with four assists as a starter in the Raptors’ opener. But Dragic is obviously not a long-term answer for the rebuilding Raptors, and is a free agent this summer. He’s still a player the Mavs are monitoring going forward.
Dragic on Doncic: ‘He Doesn’t Feel Pressure’
Dragic sang Doncic’s praises on Thursday when meeting with the Raptors media. He has witnessed Doncic’s rise from a young prodigy to a full-blown NBA star.
“He already shown when he was with Real Madrid at 15 years old, he was already playing for A team and doing well,” Dragic said. “I know him as a kid, I know him when he was five years old, I know his dad. His dad was my mentor. I really connected with Luka and his family. He’s just a pure, natural talent that you don’t see so often.”
And Dragic harkened back to something he’d previously said about Doncic and the utter lack of pressure he feels during games. He did, however, address Doncic’s tendency toward hotheadedness on the floor.
“Of the court, he is really funny,” Dragic said. “Funny, happy, he is always having a good time. You can even see on the floor, he is always smiling, enjoying the game. That’s why I said four years ago, when we were playing for the national team, he doesn’t feel pressure. He just go out there and do his job. That’s something really rare. But yeah, you know, all the Balkans, we all a little bit feisty, a little bit, you know what I say—a little bit sometimes when we don’t play good, we are a little bit crazy.”
Would Dragic Wind Up in Dallas Eventually?
Even if the Mavericks do not bring Dragic to Dallas this season, it is a good bet that he would sign with the Mavs next summer in free agency. Thus, Dallas can afford to wait on a deal for Dragic if the Raptors play out the season without waiving Dragic.
But the question for the Mavs becomes whether it is worth giving up an asset now to bring in Dragic sooner rather than later, and to ensure the Mavs have a shot at signing him next summer. Given his age and how frequently he has been injured—Dragic played only 50 games last season, mostly because of foot and ankle injuries—it’s fair to question how much Dragic has left in the tank. It might behoove Dallas to unite Dragic and Doncic sooner rather than later.
But, no doubt, the Mavs would not be willing to give up a first-round draft pick to bring on Dragic. And there are no obvious player deals that Mavs could swing for Dragic. If the Raptors won’t budge on a buyout, Dragic will have to wait to head to Big D.