Goran Dragic has found a haven with the Miami Heat, and his trade request to the Phoenix Suns last February has played out wonderfully.
Now nearly a year after from the trade, Dragic elaborated on why a team that seemed to have such promise has found itself so far removed from contending, per Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports:
It feels like they’re always changing something. They’re not like Miami, San Antonio, those teams that are really loyal when they find something.
I always believe when you find some pieces that you leave those pieces [alone]. But then you upgrade the other positions. Like San Antonio is doing. They always have the Big Three, but then it’s a good team. They always find another player at another position, so they’re always good. But that’s not my call. I was just there to play basketball. I tried to do my job.
Dragic was slowly pushed out after the Suns added point guards Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas in consecutive seasons, which forced him to adjust his game to a point where he felt his on-the-ball skills were diminished, per Lee:
Me and Bledsoe, we built really great chemistry together, we played well and the whole team did. Everybody expected that we’re going to get some big guys that we thought we needed, but [the Suns] did another move, they bring in a point guard and it was tough. I was a little bit frustrated. It was tough, especially for me, because I was playing off the ball all the time, and I was guarding [small forwards]. That was tough for me, but they did what they did.
The continued personnel shuffle, he said, led to declining on-court performances that aligned with diminished team chemistry.
He said that’s not been the case in Miami, which is why he “didn’t hesitate to sign in free agency” last summer "because [the Heat are] always on top. They’re always looking at that big picture to win a championship.”
While his numbers have dwindled—down in scoring (16.6 to 11.9 points per game) and shooting (50.1 percent to 46 percent)—he’s a part of a Miami team in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.
The Suns, meanwhile, have lost nine straight and are “not playing worth a darn,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said, per Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic.
Adding to the Suns' proverbial lack of continuity, Hornacek is reportedly on the hot seat, and rumors are already circling on his potential replacement, per Marc Stein of ESPN.com:
Fresh 2016 NBA bench rumble: There is active buzz in coaching circles that Mike D'Antoni will be on Suns' list if/when that job comes open— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) January 4, 2016
Dragic will make his first trip back to Phoenix this Friday in what probably won’t be the most welcome of homecomings.
But, warranted or not, it’s hard to fault a player for seeking an opportunity where his contributions are more appreciated—particularly if it’s with a well-established team with realistic playoff aspirations.