|Goran Dragic is the odd man out in the Phoenix Suns' crowded backcourt.|
Hearing Suns want a first-rounder for Goran Dragic and, rest assured, they'll get it. Rockets got to be tempted.
— Gery Woelfel (@GeryWoelfel) February 12, 2015
Even Suns GM Ryan McDonough hasn't been shy in indicating a personnel move is almost inevitable:
Suns GM Ryan McDonough: 'Our roster balance is a little off' http://t.co/7BIw1hCJFq pic.twitter.com/2E8nRqGrpj
— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) February 13, 2015
Dragic's usage rate was 24.1 last year, good for sixteenth in the league. He averaged a phenomenal 51% from the field while shooting 41% from deep to the tune of 20 points per game, 6 assists, and 1.4 steals. He got all kinds of attention on social media and many dubbed him an All-Star snub.
In the offseason Phoenix acquired Isaiah Thomas on a three year, 27 million dollar deal from Sacramento in a sign and trade. Soon thereafter the Suns extended Eric Bledsoe to a five year, 70 million dollar contract. At this point it seems they've sunk enough money into their backcourt, and at 28 years old, Goran Dragic seems to be the odd man out for the young Suns. Dragic's usage rate of 24.1 in 2013-2014 has dipped all the way down to 20.6 this season with the addition of Thomas. As his usage rate dips, so does his efficiency:
Dragic has experienced shooting dips across the board since last year in field goal percentage (-0.4%), three point percentage (-5.3%), and free throw percentage (-1.3%). He also scores less, dimes less, and steals less often. Dragic is more efficient in greater volume, and he simply isn't getting enough opportunities in Phoenix's three guard show.
Enter, Danny Ainge, who should absolutely explore a trade for Dragic. Ainge has stockpiled more than enough assets to do it, and the fact of the matter is Dragic may be had at a relatively cheap price and is an attractive piece for the rebuilding Celts. In a market with such a massive stock of point guards, Rondo was had at an very reasonable rate in the expiring year of his contract. It seems Dragic, who is in comparable situation, may be had at a comparable price.
Avery Bradley and the 2015 Clippers first round pick
Why the Celts do it:
If the Suns send Dragic to Boston, their chances of making the playoffs diminish. As a result, OKC's chances of making the playoffs jump, and more importantly, the chances of the Clippers falling out are worse. By trading for the LAC pick, Phoenix makes the pick worse (as they facilitate LAC's chances of remaining in the playoffs by presumably taking themselves out). From Boston's perspective, this makes the pick easier to part with.
Oh, and Dragic is good. A backcourt of Smart/Dragic would be awesome. Dragic played great alongside Bledsoe, and there's no reason to believe he wouldn't coexist in a similar combo-guard situation with Marcus Smart. Smart would also be the beneficiary of Dragic's experience as he continues to develop.
Why the Suns do it:
Phoenix is currently a legitimate playoff team hanging on to the eight spot and looking to dump a major contributor. The Suns would not be entertaining a trade that might sacrifice their season if they weren't skeptical (or certain) of Dragic declining his player option (7.5 million) and walking in free agency. It's time to get something for him.
You want a first round pick? Well here you go!
Also, the Suns allow their opponents 104.7 points per game, good for third most in the league. Phoenix also plays a fast-paced game, which in part accounts for a larger points against figure. Still, their need for defense is evident, and the addition of Avery Bradley would acknowledge that need without affecting pace.
Why it probably won't happen:
Unfortunately, the Suns are likely to want a defensive big more than a guard--something that the Celtics can't really offer. While Bradley's defense may be a somewhat enticing addition, it's probably not exactly what the orange and purple are looking for with Miles Plumlee and Alex Len splitting time at the five spot.
Sure, the Celtics have more than enough assets to pull off the deal, but does Dragic want to come to Boston? With Avery Bradley, James Young, Marcus Smart (and to a much lesser extent, Marcus Thornton) all needing minutes at guard, the situation is starting to sound like a logjam that Dragic is already trying to get away from. Obviously, if Avery Bradley is part of the deal it softens the blow, but if the Celts' backcourt future really is James Young and Marcus Smart, that's an obvious deterrent for Dragic.
Ainge is not hesitant to pull the trigger on a big move--but he's calculated. He has to like the chances of keeping Dragic long-term if he makes the move. Dragic is essentially worth nothing to Boston as a brief end-of-the-year rental. Maybe Ainge can talk him into picking up his player option and making big money in the following year when the salary cap jumps. Regardless, backcourt personnel is going to be a factor.
Also, Dragic obviously has options:
Rockets, Lakers Trying To Trade For Goran Dragic -- http://t.co/0aRvearJv8
— RealGM (@RealGM) February 13, 2015
If he wants to be on a contender, it's feasible he may be revisiting Houston. On the other hand, if he wants money, the Lakers are rumored to be preparing a max contract (though he may be wise to wait for the cap-jump). Regardless, look for Goran Dragic's name to heat up as the deadline approaches. Ainge may be looking to cash in some chips, and the time could be nearing.
Would you want Dragic in green?
Follow Austin Gill on twitter @augill93 Austin Gill 2/13/2015 04:47:00 PM Tweet Edit