Goran Dragic Apologizes for Saying He Has 'Higher Ambitions' Than Playing for RaptorsAugust 9, 2021
Toronto Raptors guard Goran Dragic apologized for comments he made to a Slovenian reporter in which he said he has "higher ambitions" than playing for the club that acquired him in a sign-and-trade with the Miami Heat for Kyle Lowry.
The veteran told a TV station in his native country that Toronto was not his preferred destination this offseason. Speaking to SportsNet's Michael Grange on Monday, the guard walked that sentiment back and said he'll give 100 percent to the franchise and its fans.
Michael Grange @michaelgrange
I just spoke with former Miami Heat and (for now) Toronto Raptors guard Goran Dragic about his comments on Slovenian TV. He is one of the most respected vets in the NBA, and clearly feels terribly about how things have come across. Story coming soon for <a href="https://twitter.com/Sportsnet?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Sportsnet</a>: <a href="https://t.co/gNa0u5gR31">pic.twitter.com/gNa0u5gR31</a>
The 35-year-old is due to make $19.4 million this season before he hits unrestricted free agency ahead of the 2022-23 season.
The Raptors have made their intention to rebuild their roster rather clear. As they sank in the standings last season, an offseason departure of Lowry became nearly inevitable while younger players were getting more opportunities on the floor.
Far removed from their 2019 NBA title, general manager Bobby Webster said on Saturday the club's path forward has been obvious.
“You probably have to go back to the second half of [last] season,” Webster said, per TSN's Josh Lewenberg. “You probably could see the direction the team was going in, and jumping up in the draft to get the fourth pick, philosophically, I think going young became kind of a more desirable path.”
That doesn't mesh with Dragic at this point in his career. The 2018 All-Star has made significant contributions in recent postseasons but has yet to win a title—a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2020 Finals remains as close as he's come.
Yet the Raptors appear ready to hold onto Dragic for the 2021-22 season. While there are a few scenarios that could lead to the guard's exit—a buyout, trade deadline move, etc.—none of those appear imminent.
“Obviously, if we got an offer that was too good to refuse we’d listen, but ultimately we want Goran here,” Webster said. “He’s happy to be here; obviously he’s been able to carve out a very nice career for himself. Talking to Masai [Ujiri], talking to everyone here, we’ve watched him a ton and I know a lot of people have seen him kill us. As a basketball player, as a vet, he provides a lot of value to us.”
Dragic may have held higher aspirations heading into the offseason, but he's ready to buy into his new role with Toronto moving forward.