Mavericks Face Tough Competition to Land Goran Dragic if He’s Traded

Goran Dragic, Raptors

Getty Goran Dragic, Raptors

There has been little question around the NBA over the last nine days that the career of former Heat guard Goran Dragic in Toronto, to which he was traded in the offseason as part of the Kyle Lowry deal, could be short-lived. Dragic started for the Raptors in their NBA opener, scored 15 points on 26.7% shooting in three subsequent games and, starting on October 27, has not appeared on the floor since.

The string of DNP-CDs—four straight now—has ramped up speculation that Dragic will soon wind up elsewhere. That is good news for the Mavericks, especially if Dragic is bought out of the remainder of his contract and becomes a free agent. He almost assuredly would sign with Dallas.

Still, there is a wrinkle: Folks in Miami suggest the Heat could make a run at bringing Dragic back.

As the Miami sports site 5ReasonsSports speculated, “If he’s traded and then bought out, he could return.”

Raptors Do Not Want to Buy Out Dragic

The problem for the Mavericks is that the Raptors seem unwilling to give Dragic a buyout. If they did, under NBA rules, Dragic would be forbidden from re-signing with the Heat for a full year, which is good news for Dallas. The Raptors are intent on trading Dragic and getting something in return.

If Toronto dumps Dragic and the team taking him on decides to waive Dragic—which is a distinct possibility—then Miami is eligible to sign him.

But would Miami be the frontrunner? There is no question that Dragic has an interest in joining forces in the NBA with Luka Doncic, his teammate on the Slovenian team and someone Dragic has known since the pair were kids—five years old, in fact, in Doncic’s case.

When Dragic was coming up as a teenager in basketball, Doncic’s father, Sasa, helped guide him. Dragic has always spoke glowingly about Doncic, including last month when the Mavericks made the trek to Toronto for a head-to-head matchup.

“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.”

Miami Heat Have Factors in Their Favor

Sounds like a guy who would like to play some role on a Doncic-dominated team, right? Probably. And if Dragic gets bought out, eventually, by the Raptors, the Mavs will all but be able to lay out the red carpet for him.

The Heat, though, could be a threat, too, because the team has a bigger need for Dragic and almost certainly will offer him playing time. With the rise of Jalen Brunson in Dallas, just what type of role Dragic would play is uncertain—he would have to replace Frank Ntilikina, a player the Mavs have long liked, in the rotation.

But Miami has virtually no backup to Lowry, a gaping hole that Dragic could fill. It does not help the Mavericks’ cause, either, that Dragic and Miami star are very close friends.

That could be dangerous for a Mavs team that would likely welcome Dragic aboard as soon as possible. The lure of Doncic is strong. But reuniting with his old team? The lure would be just as strong.



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