Goran Dragic will remain in Miami, the Heat guard announced Friday at the start of free agency. Dragic, 34, was originally acquired by the franchise in February 2015 and signed a five-year, $85 million deal that summer. He was the team’s leading playoff scorer in the bubble before the Finals, which he missed the majority of due to a foot injury. The deal will reportedly be for $37.4 million over two years, with the second year a team option for Miami. Let’s grade the deal.
This is an obvious one for both sides. Dragic has been a constant during a five-year stint in Miami that’s seen numerous changes to the roster around him. After coming off the bench last season—and playing like a Sixth Man of the Year candidate—Dragic started during the playoffs, and excelled as a scorer alongside Jimmy Butler. The Slovenia native averaged 16.2 points per game during the regular season, and upped that average to over 20 points per night during the playoffs before his injury. While Dragic has defensive deficiencies, his scoring is vital to the Heat’s offense, and he’s a clean fit for everyone else on the roster.
As far as the money being so high for a 34-year-old guard, not only is the payment a reward for Dragic’s long career with the team, it doesn’t really affect Miami’s ability to sign others. The Heat will still be in play for free agents with cap exceptions. And the team option on the second year of the deal gives Miami the leeway to open up space for the loaded 2021 class, bring back Dragic outright, or even use him in a sign-and-trade.
Dragic may not have made as much on the open market, but Miami’s priorities are to keep its Finals core together and maintain flexibility next summer and beyond. This deal achieves both, and it’s a deserved gesture for a player who has been a consummate professional during his tenure.