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Heat Rumors: Goran Dragic Expected to Interest Contenders if Contract Option Declined

Blake SchusterContributor IJuly 31, 2021

MIAMI, FL - MAY 29: Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat drives to the basket against the Milwaukee Bucks during Round 1, Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 29, 2021 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

Goran Dragic is expected to have a number of suitors if the Miami Heat decline the guard's team option. According to Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic, multiple contenders are interested in Dragic should he reach unrestricted free agency next week:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

If Miami declines the 2021-22 $19.4M team option on guard Goran Dragic, there’s expected to be interest from several NBA title and postseason contenders in unrestricted free agency. His option deadline is Sunday.

Dragic has spent the last six-plus seasons with the Heat. Last year, he averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 50 games while playing 26.7 minutes per night. It's unclear how much money he could earn as an unrestricted free agent, but with championship teams in the mix, a small bidding war is possible. 

The Heat have until Sunday to exercise the 34-year-old's option, as the free-agent negotiating period opens Monday.

If the team exercises its option, Dragic will be the third-highest-paid player in Miami behind Jimmy Butler ($36 million) and Bam Adebayo ($28.1 million) in 2021-22. Should the Heat decline his and Andre Iguodala's options, Spotrac projects the club will enter free agency with $20.5 million in practical cap space.

Ira Winderman @IraHeatBeat

Heat in interesting spot with Dragic, Iguodala team-option Sunday deadlines. If picked up, then no cap space. But if bypassed and they become free agents, then lack of big contract to package in sign-and-trade. Legally can't talk to teams, free agents until after option deadline.

Heat president Pat Riley is expected to be active, telling reporters in June the team has flexibility to go multiple routes this summer. 

“I like the nucleus of our team," Riley said, noting a third star in the lineup could help. "We’ve got a great core with Jimmy and Bam. ... We’ll see. Flexibility is a good way to go.”

After Riley called Miami's first-round playoff loss to the Milwaukee Bucks an "absolute team breakdown," it would make sense to expect significant roster changes—especially considering the impending decisions on unrestricted free agents Victor Oladipo, Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelica and restricted free agents Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn. 

In the meantime, it's unclear which contenders could target Dragic should he hit the open market. 

In light of a possible Ben Simmons trade, the Philadelphia 76ers might need a point guard who can create his own shot and is a threat from behind the arc. Dragic isn't a full-time starter anymore, but he shot 37.3 percent from three last season and could help fill the gap from any Simmons deal.  

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