DALLAS - In part of the sign-and-trade deal that sent Kyle Lowry to the Miami Heat, the Toronto Raptors received Goran Dragic to lead the return. Will he end up staying?
If Dragic had his choice, it sounds clear that he would prefer to play elsewhere instead of staying put with the Raptors.
In a television interview, Dragic expressed that Toronto is not his 'preferred destination' and he has 'higher ambitions' than to play for the Raptors next season.
Dragic, 35, is coming off a strong season for the Heat with averages of 13.4 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. He is now entering the final-year of his $19.4 million with plenty left to offer a team.
There was speculation about the Raptors' intentions with Dragic in regards to a potential contract buyout. NBA insider Marc Stein reported there is 'zero inclination' from Toronto to do so.
Stein also reported that Toronto had 'rebuffed trade overtures' for Dragic when talking to teams about potential deals. The Dallas Mavericks have been linked to Dragic as a potential trade suitor and even were among teams that attempted to make a deal happen.
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The message Dragic sends to the Raptors with such a comment is that he will not return after his soon-to-be expiring deal comes to an end next offseason.
It would be ideal for the Raptors to move him this offseason in order to maximize the potential return. Waiting until the trade scenario creates a difficult set of circumstances since he would be a rental for a contender.
Perhaps a team like the New Orleans Pelicans could decide they need more backcourt stability if a young player underachieves. However, matching salary on a $19.4 million deal for what likely would be just a few months of performance is far from ideal.
The Mavericks have the luxury of knowing that Luka Doncic has a strong relationship with Dragic from their ties with the Slovenian national team. That provides more reason to believe he would stay beyond the 2021-22 season.
Now, the question remains, do the Mavericks look to re-engage the Raptors in trade talks? Or are they still waiting for a buyout? Mark Cuban made it clear the team needs a secondary ball-handler earlier this offseason but one has yet to be acquired.