NBA Rumors: Goran Dragic to Sign with Nets After Contract Buyout from Spurs

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 21, 2022

Toronto Raptors' Goran Dragic plays during a preseason NBA basketball game, Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Veteran guard Goran Dragic agreed to a deal with the Brooklyn Nets, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Ahead of the trade deadline, the Toronto Raptors sent Dragic to the San Antonio Spurs in a deal for Thaddeus Young. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported his time in San Antonio wasn't expected to be long, with the Spurs likely to buy him out of his remaining contract.

Dragic originally landed with the Raptors as part of the Miami Heat's sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry. Many believed his time with Toronto would be a marriage of convenience, with the team moving him on at a later date.

The 35-year-old made only five appearances for the Raptors, averaging 8.0 points and 1.8 assists. He last played in a 127-121 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 13, finishing with 16 points, five rebounds and three assists.

On Nov. 28, Dragic left the team for a personal matter. General manager Bobby Webster said he had the "full support" of the Raptors and that there was no definite date for his return to the squad.

Every year, contending teams turn to the buyout market to make their final improvements after the trade deadline.

Occasionally, a marquee name such as Blake Griffin becomes available, which renews the discourse about whether buyouts are another mechanism for the rich to get richer. But in reality, buyouts are rarely the thing that puts a franchise over the top in the championship race.

Last year, Griffin couldn't lift Brooklyn out of the conference semifinals, while signing Andre Drummond didn't help the Los Angeles Lakers get out of the first round.

In the case of Dragic, Nets fans shouldn't expect to get the player who made the 2017-18 All-Star team.

The Slovenian playmaker was solid for the Heat last season, averaging 13.4 points and 4.4 assists while shooting 43.2 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. But there's a reason why Miami prioritized the addition of Lowry.

Exchanging Dragic for Lowry seems to be working out nicely for the Heat, who are currently first in the Eastern Conference at 38-21.

For his career, Dragic is averaging twice as many assists (4.8) as turnovers (2.3), and he's a good enough shooter (36.4 on three-pointers) to keep opposing defenses honest. He's also well-versed in playoff basketball, having appeared in 56 postseason games with the Heat and Phoenix Suns.

The Athletic's John Hollinger wrote that Dragic "showed some slippage last season, but his pick-and-roll game and off-ball shooting skill should at least qualify him as a solid backup option."

Teams can never have too much depth at this stage of the season, and there weren't many better options for Brooklyn to shore up its guard rotation for the stretch run.

Trading James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons was justifiable given how he had clearly wanted out as the deadline approached. However, the Nets were getting Simmons without a clear picture of when he'd be available to play and perform at his peak.

In Dragic, Brooklyn now has another ball-handler who can ease the burden on Kyrie Irving and serve as a bit of a stopgap with the uncertainty still hovering over Simmons' status.