Although Elfrid Payton quickly inked a contract in free agency, the New Orleans Pelicans have consistently shown further interest in strengthening the point guard rotation. The organization has been linked to a variety of players over the last few months including Dennis Schröder, Mario Chalmers, Yogi Ferrell, Tyreke Evans and Ty Lawson, but there’s a chance that Goran Dragic’s name could soon be thrown into the mix.
According to John Gambadoro, the seemingly well-connected radio talk show host out of Phoenix — who first caught wind of Rajon Rondo asking for a good deal of money on his next contract, Goran Dragic is available for trade. This notion has been further reinforced on the AmicoHoops website.
A league source told AmicoHoops Saturday that Miami would gladly trade Dragic for a first-round pick. The Phoenix Suns, who are looking for a starting point guard after sending Brandon Knight to the Houston Rockets, could reach out to the Heat in regards to acquiring Dragic.
The Suns are in need of a point guard, yes, but it’s hard to imagine Dragic having much, if any, desire in returning to Phoenix. Prior to landing in Miami, he was with the Suns organization for a total of six years across two different stints; however, the last go-round didn’t end particularly well. He had asked for a trade to get out of town, citing trust issues and Phoenix’s direction with Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas in tow. In retaliation, management decided to label Dragic as selfish.
On the other hand, do you know where Dragic wouldn’t encounter any complications?
Why with the New Orleans Pelicans of course!
Not only is Dragic familiar with Head Coach Alvin Gentry after their time together in Phoenix, General Manager Dell Demps has a history of chasing the 6’3 floor general. First, when the team was in the process of granting Chris Paul his wish to leave New Orleans, Demps’ original trade proposal included Goran Dragic in the return package. Then three years ago during free agency, the organization reportedly had interest in adding The Dragon to the roster.
Maybe a third hard pursuit by Demps would be the charm?
Dragic is 32 years old and has accumulated over 20,000 minutes in his career, but he turned in another fine campaign last season with the Heat, posting a line of 17.3 points, 4.8 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 threes. Furthermore, the Pelicans placed a priority on veteran leadership in a major decision-making role last year when they took a chance on Rajon Rondo. The short union worked wonders as New Orleans reached the postseason for the first time since the 2015 playoffs and the addition of an elite floor general allowed Jrue Holiday to move off the ball, leading to arguably his best season as a professional.
While Elfrid Payton shares a lot of similarities to Rondo, he lacks the experience the coaching staff and front office likely prefer. The question is, could Miami be enticed by any possible deal with New Orleans? It’s difficult to say.
Pat Riley mentioned at the end of Miami’s season that no one was going to be untouchable on the roster moving forward, but any moves would have to upgrade the roster. The Heat are probably seeking to get under the luxury tax; however, they don’t have a solid backup choice to take the reigns as the starting point guard. Thus, it’s hard to imagine something close to Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca and a future first round pick being the right haul in getting a deal done. Would the Heat ask for and the Pelicans relinquish Frank Jackson, Nikola Mirotic, more picks, or would a third team need to enter the deal? Also, let’s not dismiss that other potential suitors would also probably ask for an invitation to the bargaining table, hence raising that asking price.
Goran Dragic is owed over $18 million next season and has a player option for $19 million and change in the following campaign — a big wrench to any hopes of retaining both Julius Randle and Mirotic, but the Pelicans need to be mindful of living in the here and now. Anthony Davis’ future looms somewhat in doubt so building on the success of last season is paramount, and this following set of skills isn’t available anywhere in free agency.
Balance + dribbling and focus pic.twitter.com/VA6YqNlgx5— Goran Dragić (@Goran_Dragic) August 30, 2018
If a trade is possible, a Dragic-Holiday-Mirotic-Randle-Davis lineup is very much worth exploring and ridiculously fun to ponder, but avoid going too overboard in making it a reality because the Pelicans current core is young and trending in the right direction.