In September, Suns point guard Goran Dragic told a reporter during the FIBA World Cup that it was his intention to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer and become a free agent — but that he would only do so with the intention of quickly re-signing with Phoenix. While that might have been the idea at that time, that’s not the case now, as Dragic will have an “open” free agency, league sources told Sporting News. When
In September, Suns point guard Goran Dragic told a reporter during the FIBA World Cup that it was his intention to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer and become a free agent — but that he would only do so with the intention of quickly re-signing with Phoenix.
While that might have been the idea at that time, that’s not the case now, as Dragic will have an “open” free agency, league sources told Sporting News. When
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Among those options, according to sources, would be Houston — the team Dragic left in order to sign with Phoenix in 2012. The Rockets are well-stocked with point guards, but nearly all, including starter Patrick Beverley, can become free agents next summer.
The Lakers also figure to be a potential landing spot for Dragic, a source said — though, to be clear, the Lakers have only about $36 million committed next season with needs at just about every position, and thus are expected to pursue multiple big-name free agents.
At issue with the Suns and Dragic is the guard logjam on the team, which Dragic addressed on Tuesday. He told AZCentral.com’s Paul Coro that the reason for some of Phoenix’s early struggles this year is “because there’s only one ball and we’re all point guards. That’s an easy answer.”
While Dragic said the team can still be successful with enough individual sacrifice, the logjam isn’t going away. In the offseason, Phoenix gave a four-year, $27 million contract to free agent Isaiah Thomas, with the intention of using him as a high-scoring sixth man. The Suns also gave Eric Bledsoe a five-year, $70 million contract extension and drafted Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis.
Throw in high-volume shooting guard Gerald Green, and the Suns are relying heavily on their little guys for shots. The team’s guards account for 54.1 percent of field-goal attempts, up from 47.2 percent last year.
Last season Dragic was at his best, earning the league’s Most Improved Award and a spot on the All-NBA third team. He established career highs in scoring (20.3 points per game) and shooting (50.5 percent from the field). He is a major reason the Suns, who won 48 games in 2013-14, were expected to crack the 50-win mark this year.
Dragic’s numbers have dipped this year (15.6 points, 47.5 percent shooting), and the Suns generally have had a harder time offensively, in part because they miss sweet-shooting big man Channing Frye, a major floor-spacer who signed with Orlando as a free agent last summer. Phoenix’s shooting percentage has gone from 46.3 last year to 44.8 percent through 11 games this year.
All of this isn’t to say that Dragic is surely out the door when free agency comes next summer, or that the Suns are doomed this year. It’s only November, after all, and Phoenix will surely be in the mix for a West playoff spot. As coach Jeff Hornacek said on Monday, “There’s no reason to jump off a bridge or anything.”
But it will take some alterations in the style the Suns guards are accustomed to playing. “It’s an adjustment for everybody, our rotations,” Hornacek said. “We still have Gerald Green who gives us some great minutes, so that’s four guys at the 1 and 2 spot. … Eric and Goran and Isaiah all have to learn to play off the ball. We’re trying to swing the ball from side to side so it gets in both guys’ hands but sometimes they’re on the same side of the court and I think they’re wondering now, ‘What exactly do I do, I don’t have the ball in my hands?’ They’re still working on that, and we’ll get better."
Perhaps, with time, the Suns will iron out their guard hierarchy, reach that 50-win plateau and give Dragic plenty of reason to stick around. But even still, expect him to factor into opposing teams’ summer plans.