Two words: Relationships matter.
The Brooklyn Nets parlayed coach Steve Nash's longtime friendship with Goran Dragic into signing the veteran point guard Monday, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
No financial terms of the deal were made available, though it's likely he will be playing for the veteran's minimum. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the contract will be for the remainder of the season. He reached a buyout with the Spurs last week after being traded to San Antonio at the deadline.
The 35-year-old played only five games for the Raptors prior to the trade, spending most of the season away from the team for personal reasons. Dragic will join a guard rotation that already includes Kyrie Irving, Patty Mills and Seth Curry, along with a multipositional Ben Simmons.
Nets' Updated Rotation
PG: Kyrie Irving*
SG: Seth Curry
SF: Kevin Durant**
PF: Ben Simmons***
C: Andre Drummond
Bench: Patty Mills, Goran Dragic, LaMarcus Aldridge, Bruce Brown, Kessler Edwards (two-way), Blake Griffin, David Duke Jr. (two-way), Cam Thomas, Day'Ron Sharpe, James Johnson, Nic Claxton, Joe Harris****
(*Irving is currently only eligible for most road games due to his refusal to undergo COVID-19 vaccination.)
(**Durant is currently injured. No timetable has been set for his return.)
(***Simmons has not played this season, citing mental health concerns. His timetable for a return is unclear.)
(****Harris is currently injured. It's possible, if not likely, he misses the remainder of the season.)
The Nets waived Jevon Carter in a corresponding move to fit Dragic on their roster. He is due $3.9 million guaranteed next season, which will increase the Nets' already-burdensome tax bill.
The significance of Dragic's role will likely depend heavily on whether New York City loosens its vaccination mandates. Mayor Eric Adams admitted the rule, which allows unvaccinated out-of-town athletes to play in games but bans unvaccinated athletes from teams that play in the city, is "unfair" but expressed hesitance in making any changes. The rule was implemented by Adams' predecessor, Bill de Blasio.
Irving has steadfastly refused vaccination and maintains nothing will change his mind. It's possible, if not likely, that Irving will have to miss playoff games due to his vaccination status.
Dragic seems likely to enter the starting lineup in Irving's place for home games moving forward.
That said, the Nets' rotation is in a complete state of flux until they can get everyone on the court together. Irving is missing half the team's games due to his vaccination status, Durant remains out with a knee injury, and Simmons is yet to set a date for making his team debut after being traded by the Philadelphia 76ers at the deadline.
Nash will essentially be making these decisions on the fly, finding rotations that fit in hopes of cobbling together a deep playoff run. The Nets went into the All-Star break losers of 12 of their last 14 games.