Report: Goran Dragic Will Have “Open” Free Agency; Lakers, Rockets Options

11.19.14 5 years ago

The Phoenix Suns’ three-headed point guard monster might be a single season experiment. According to a report, reigning Most Improved Player and All-NBA Third Team honoree Goran Dragic will have an “open” free agency this summer.

Courtesy of the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney:

…Dragic will have an “open” free agency, league sources told Sporting News. When Dragic opts out and becomes a free agent next July, he will be a sought-after commodity, and while Phoenix would get the first hearing, Dragic will have options.

Among those options, according to sources, would be Houston — the team Dragic left in order to sign with Phoenix in 2012. The Rockets are well-stocked with point guards, but nearly all, including starter Patrick Beverley, can become free agents next summer.

The Lakers also figure to be a potential landing spot for Dragic, a source said…

This juicy if premature tidbit comes just over two months after Dragic said he would opt-out of the final year of his contract for next season but immediately re-sign with the Suns. The four-year, $30 million deal he signed with Phoenix before 2012-2013 carries a $7.5 million player option for 2015-2016, a salary that will fall well below what he’ll receive on the market this summer after a breakout campaign for the Suns last season.

It makes sense that Dragic would want to test the waters. Free agents should consider every possibility for their future, especially when their incumbent circumstances take a turn for the worse – and that might be what’s ongoing with Dragic.

Phoenix inked Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas to long-term contracts this summer. Jeff Hornacek’s go-go system is the rare one that can work with two point guards on the floor simultaneously, and the size of Bledsoe and Dragic is instrumental to that attack. Both players are big enough to check opposing shooting guards.

But there’s reason to believe carrying all three players in the future isn’t a viable strategy. Dragic’s per game and rate statistics this season are behind those of last year, and Thomas has emerged as Phoenix’s go-to fourth quarter option with only one of the other guards at his side – or even both on the bench. There was optimism in the season’s first week that the Suns could play for stretches with Dragic, Bledsoe, and Thomas all on the floor at once, but that’s quickly dissipated. After the trio led the the Suns to a dramatic comeback win over the San Antonio Spurs on Halloween, it’s appeared very sparingly and been absolutely throttled defensively since.

And as Dragic recently told Paul Coro of the The Arizona Republic, “there’s only one ball and we’re all point guards. It’s hard.”

Then there’s the very reasonable take that it’s simply unwise for Phoenix to invest so much money in what basically amounts to one and-a-half positions. Bledsoe and Thomas will eat approximately $20 million of the Suns’ cash through 2017-2018. Should Dragic receive an offer approaching Bledsoe’s $14 million average salary, the team would be committing more than half of its cap next season to those three players. And even though the inevitable spike in salary cap in years following makes doing so a more palatable option, Phoenix might still deem it prudent to go another direction.

This is a case where it might be best for player and team to mutually agree on parting ways.

But it’s very, very early to come to any conclusion. The Suns are 6-5 having played a difficult schedule, and Dragic and Bledsoe, specifically, are still adjusting to new roles. Phoenix also is finding life difficult without the floor-spacing provided by the departed Channing Frye. There’s every reason to believe that Dragic and the Suns will get getter as the season wears on.

Either way, though, it simply makes sense for The Dragon to keep an open mind about his future. He’ll have attractive options beyond Phoenix and even Los Angeles and Houston, and deserves the right to properly vet all of his potential suitors. But that’s seven months and almost a full season away. For now, Dragic is certainly most concerned with getting back on track as a Sun.

What do you think?

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