The Phoenix Suns are reportedly dangling point guard Goran Dragic as trade bait after he and his representatives informed the team he won't be re-signing with them after the 2014-15 NBA season.
The Phoenix Suns are dangling Goran Dragic as trade bait.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Suns are looking to stike a deal involving Dragic before the NBA's 2015 Trade Deadeline at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday, Feb. 19. Goran and his camp informed Phoenix he will not re-sign with the team after the 2014-15 NBA season.
Stein reports the Suns prefer trading Dragic to a team which would re-sign him after this season to prevent losing him without any compensation.
USA TODAY Sports' Sam Amick, who first reported the development, says one of his two sources point out the reason for Dragic wanting out of Phoenix is him wanting "to run his own team with the kind of freedom and support given to someone such as Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors."
Dragic cites his decreased time as the Suns' featured point guard as the main reason behind his lack of production in 2014-15. Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas have been getting major minutes this season, per USA TODAY Sports.
Stein says ESPN reported last week that the Suns had been trying to trade Thomas partly to appease Dragic. However, the latter's latest stance would leave Phoenix not much of a choice but to let him go elsewhere.
The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers are said to be the most active in trying to land Dragic. However, both the ESPN and USA TODAY Sports report say he is not interested in signing a deal with the Rockets. Both updates gave no concrete reason why he does not want to end up in Houston.
Stein stresses both the Lakers and New York Knicks intrigue Dragic because both teams have a desperate need for a point guard and a heap of cap space. Whoever ends up acquiring him via a trade will be able to acquire his Larry Bird rights and the prerogative of offering him a five-year deal this summer.
However, should no trade fall through, Dragic is destined to test the free-agent market where he is expected to be signed to a four-year, max deal in the $80 million range. Among the teams which could offer him that much are the Lakers, Knicks and Miami Heat, per Stein.
The ESPN report adds the Suns added Dragic's brother, Zoran, earlier this season in order to appease the older Dragic, but Zoran Dragic has struggled to crack the Suns' regular rotation.
The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro notes the Suns are looking to be active before this year's trade deadline. He says their roster "has more players for two backcourt positions than three frountcourt spots and a half-game hold on the Western Conference's final playoff position." The Suns have lost five of their last six games entering the 2015 All-Star break to fall to 29-25 and just a game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the West's eighth and final playoff spot.
Dragic averaged 20.3 points and 5.9 assists on his way to being named the 2013-14 NBA Most Improved Player. This season, his production has slightly dipped to 16.2 points and 4.1 assists due to the three-guard rotation the Suns are employing, per ESPN.
The 28-year-old Dragic, a native of Slovenia, also earned All-NBA Third Team honors last season, per Coro.
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