Goran Dragic was not happy in Phoenix last season. He was heading into a free agent year and could not come to an agreement on a new deal with the Suns. Couple that with his unhappiness with how things were going on the court with the team and it was inevitable that he and the Suns were headed for a divorce. It wall came to a head in February of last season when Dragic and his representation essentially informed the Suns that he had no plans to re-sign in Phoenix after the season. It was almost immediately after this statement was released that the Suns unloaded Dragic. The Suns shipped him to the Miami Heat via trade along with his brother Zoran Dragic. The Suns, who had an abundance of point guards, could afford to get rid of Dragic because they had just signed guard Eric Bledsoe to a big deal before the season and he was more than able to play the point guard position exclusively. But for Dragic, the trade showed him that the Heat were seriously wanting his services and that he could potentially get an offer from them in this upcoming offseason. Dragic, who is seeking a max contract, is expected to be wooed by a few teams that have some deep pockets this offseason. In what could be a bidding war, the Heat took the first shot at the veteran guard. Miami reportedly is offering him a five-year deal worth over $80 million. Dragic reportedly is seeking the max amount he can get and that could potentially not be enough for Miami. If his agent is smart, he will take this offer and use this as the minimum amount Dragic makes. But if you are Miami and Dragic does accept this offer, is this really a sound investment?
Goran Dragic has been in the NBA for some time now. He started his career in Phoenix as the backup to star point guard Steve Nash. And over time, Dragic has received more playing time and grown as a player. However, his biggest jump was when he came back to Phoenix for the second time and played under head coach Jeff Hornacek in the 2013-2014 season. Under the fast-paced style he implemented, Dragic was on fire and playing the best basketball of his career, averaging 20 points and six assists a game. He may not have been happy with a few things in Phoenix when he left, but one thing he missed was the fast-paced style he played in. When he got to Miami, the pace was slower and that was not conducive to how he liked to play. Well, the Heat have made some assurances to Dragic that they would speed up the tempo should he return. The style of play may fit Dragic well, but there is some issues with running that style of offense all the time. Power forward Chris Bosh and center Hassan Whiteside should be fine in adjusting to the changeup. But there will be two players that may have a tougher time adjusting to the new style should they stay in Miami. Both Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade have player options for next season in Miami. And although Wade has indicated he is going to opt out of his deal, Deng has been non-committal so far. Hypothetically, let’s say these two come back to Miami next year. These two are not the spring chickens they used to be. And increasing the tempo for them would mean a lot of wear and tear on their bodies. With Wade, that would be an issue due to his injury history. At a fast-paced tempo at this stage of his career, he probably would be lucky to finish 50-60 games. As far as Deng, he has had some issues the last couple of seasons with injuries also and has missed some games. The Heat would end up having to dig into their bench, which as it stands, will not be as solid yet again. Miami could be exposing their team to something that they are not prepared for as a whole.
Another issue with Dragic signing in Miami long-term is the competition he could be facing. Dragic is a good guard and has had some great moments in his career. But let’s take a look at the point guards he would be facing in the East: Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls (when healthy), Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers (when healthy), Jeff Teague of the Hawks, Kemba Walker of the Charlotte Hornets and that is not even including the young point guards that are coming up in the East. Dragic is solid, but he may be in for some trouble defensively when he sees any of these guys out there taking him on. Dragic is crafty and makes some athletic plays, but he would have some problems trying to keep up with the athleticism of some of the points guards listed in the East. And essentially, he would give up all that he scored. The best thing for him when he was in Phoenix was he had a young guard in Eric Bledsoe to take some of the defensive pressure off of him. In Miami, he may potentially have Dwyane Wade or some other guard that may not be as tough defensively as Bledsoe can be. And with having to extend himself more defensively, that may began to wear down Dragic and reduce his numbers. And with his numbers not the same as they once were, he would not be impacting the team as much as they need him to.
Signing Dragic would be something that would make some Heat fans happy, but it would not make as much as a difference as the signing would suggest. The Heat want to save face in the trade they made to bring in Dragic and by signing him, they will do so across the league. But they also will be signing a player that is asking them to change to something they may not be fit for going into the 2015-2016 season. And that could ultimately hurt their team.