Goran Dragic has not played a minute for the Toronto Raptors, and he may be more trouble than he’s worth. It’s not that he’s injured, a bad basketball player, or even too old. It’s that he may not even want to be in Toronto.
After seven consecutive seasons, five straight with 50 wins and culminating in the 2019 NBA Championship, 2021 ruined all of the entitlements the organization sowed from 2013-2020. This clearly didn’t align with what Dragic is looking for right now, though he expressed that in a very controversial way.
In an interview given in Slovenian, Dragic claimed that he has “higher ambitions” than playing for the Raptors. Dragic still hasn’t slipped a championship ring on his finger, and going from a title contender to a team in flux might sting, but you can’t come out and say that!
Dragic is either disrespecting Toronto or admitting that he doesn’t want to be here. While he did try to walk his comments back, this is not a good look for him.
Goran Dragic might be more trouble than he’s worth for the Raptors.
It has also been reported Dragic would love to play with his rising star countryman Luka Doncic in Dallas, who is quickly becoming the next megastar in the NBA. With Doncic playing point-forward most of 2021 for the Mavericks, Dragic would pair nicely with his fellow Slovenian.
Whether it’s handling the ball or playing off it as a catch and shoot guard, he could take pressure off of Doncic. Dragic is not a great defender, but he is a crafty offensive player who averaged 13.4 points per game and shot the three at a 37.3% clip.
While Dragic wants what he wants, the Mavericks may not necessarily be willing partners if the price is too high, as stated by Tim McMahon.
If the Mavericks eventually warm to the idea of acquiring Dragic, this deal might be enough to boot Dragic out of Toronto.
This Toronto Raptors trade gets Goran Dragic to Dallas.
Dragic doesn’t fit the Raptors’ timeline of mostly mid-20s aged players or younger. Rather than being a bench player in Toronto, he could slot right into the starting lineup for Dallas alongside Doncic and the re-signed Tim Hardaway Jr.
Powell, a 30-year-old Canadian, and Cauley-Stein would give Toronto two extra bigs on the roster when a larger lineup is necessary.
The 6-10 Powell, making $11 million in each of the next two seasons, is returning from an Achilles tendon tear in 2020. He played in 58 games in 2021, averaging 5.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
As for Cauley-Stein, who comes in at $4.2 million this year, the former first-round pick averaged 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game.
While Cauley-Stein and Powell may seem excessive depth at center and redundant to each other, Cauley-Stein is an NBA-level 7-0 center, which is something the Raptors don’t have right now, and his reasonable salary won’t eat into a ton of cap room.
This type of deal might not be possible, and Dragic may have to bide his time in Toronto as reports from Tim Cato of The Athletic suggest that the Mavericks aren’t inclined to move someone that is as well respected within the organization as Powell is or part ways with two centers for one aging guard.
The Raptors may not be in a hurry to move Dragic anyway, as general manager Bobby Webster responded to his comments by saying that he is understanding of exactly why he is frustrated.
"“We have a core that has been around for a while and has won at the highest level as well, so I think let’s give it some time here to see how he would fit in and if he likes it here or not,” Webster said. “He’s a pro and has been around a lot and he’s obviously entitled to want to make the most of his (remaining playing) years.”"
Whether or not Dragic suits up for the Raptors when the 2021-22 season begins in October, it’s obvious that Toronto’s management wants Dragic in a Raptors’ uniform. He’d probably be in the rotation as the primary guard off the bench in tandem with Malachi Flynn.
We’ve seen a situation like this with Peja Stojakovic in 2011, as he was bought out. The Raptors need to either get Dragic back in the good graces of fans or offload him for picks.