First-round picks have never been more valuable than now, but that doesn’t mean one alone is worth a player of Goran Dragic’s caliber. If this latest report is to be believed, though, someone better alert the Phoenix Suns of that reality. According to Gery Woelfel of the Racine Journal, Phoenix is seeking a first-rounder – and perhaps nothing more – in exchange for its reigning All-NBA Third Team guard.
This intel clashes with that gathered by CBS Sports’ Ken Berger in December. Though multiple teams were calling after Dragic, Berger reported that the Suns appeared more willing to engage in trade talks centering on Eric Bledsoe or Isaiah Thomas.
One problem with that approach: Dragic is a free agent in July while Phoenix inked its pair of other ball-dominant guards to multi-year contracts last summer. But the possibility of the Slovenian star leaving in free agency only partially explains Phoenix’s reportedly low asking price.
All deals are different and specific team context affects each one, of course, but it bears mentioning that the Cleveland Cavaliers parted with two first-round picks for Timofey Mozgov last month. Is Dragic, a preternaturally gifted penetrator and all-around playmaker, really worth half of what Cavs GM David Griffin paid for the hulking Russian? That’s hard to believe despite his uncertain contractual status going forward.
But if the Suns are comfortable letting Dragic go for pennies on the dollar, it’s certainly easy to assume that the Houston Rockets would be his most likely buyer. Daryl Morey has been searching for an upgrade at point guard since last season and is obviously comfortable with the 6-4 lefty’s game – Houston let him walk in free agency three seasons ago.
Still, it’s easy to see why the Suns are entertaining the idea of trading Dragic. Bledsoe and Thomas have maintained their stellar and previously established levels of play during the team’s three point guard experiment, while Dragic has experienced a relative dip this season compared to last. And with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers aggressively seeking upgrades this summer and the cap about to rise (marginally then dramatically), it’s close to a certainty he’ll prove even pricier than Bledsoe did a few months ago.
Dragic and his team aren’t even a full season removed from one of the league’s happiest marriages. But things change quickly in the NBA, and Ryan McDonough and company would be smart to get something of value for Dragic while they can as opposed to participating in a bidding war come July they’d rather sit out.
In doing so, though, Phoenix should draw a thicker line in the desert sand than merely a first-round pick.