Goran Dragic could be snatched away from the Bucks by the Nets

The Brooklyn Nets‘ 11-game losing streak at the end of January and into February put them in a rather haunting position heading into NBA All-Star Weekend. But the Nets are fighting hard to make a run as they await full-strength lineups. They’re looking to the buyout market to attract impact players to Brooklyn and, in the process, could rob the Milwaukee Bucks of their top target.

The Bucks reportedly grew more aggressive in their pursuit of veteran guard Goran Dragic over the past several days. Dragic became a free agent after the Toronto Raptors traded him to the San Antonio Spurs, where he promptly got bought out. The 35-year-old would give Milwaukee backcourt depth after the Bucks traded Donte DiVincenzo and lost Pat Connaughton to injury.

However, the Nets seem intent on muddying the waters.

Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash mentored Dragic when the two played for the Phoenix Suns. Nash could recruit the Slovenian guard as the ideal fill-in for Ben Simmons until the Nets deem him ready to play, and land a blow to the Bucks’ title hopes in the process.

Steve Nash reportedly played a role in the Nets’ recruitment pitch to Goran Dragic

L-R: Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash looks on during an NBA game in February 2022 and Goran Dragic goes up for a layup during a game in November 2021
Steve Nash (L) and Goran Dragic (R) | Left to Right: Adam Hunger/Getty Images and Cole Burston/Getty Images

Dragic is arguably the most highly sought-after player on the NBA buyout market. As such, he’s holding his cards until the proper moment.

A source told veteran NBA Insider Marc Stein (h/t Substack) that Dragic has been “really open-minded” regarding the pitches he has received. Could a past connection lead him back to Brooklyn?

Steve Nash spent two seasons as Dragic’s mentor in Phoenix. According to Stein, the Hall of Fame point guard has led the charge in the Nets’ recruitment of his former teammate.

League sources say Nash registered key aspects of the Nets’ bid to Dragic on Friday as Brooklyn also maintains hope that Kyrie Irving will be more available for the stretch run if the vaccine mandate that has ruled him out of home games all season is finally lifted in New York City. 

–Marc Stein, via Substack

The relationship between player and coach is enormous. Given his history with Nash, Dragic might feel a sense of comfort suiting up for a guy who understands his strengths and can put him in a position to succeed.

Moreover, urgency matters. Yes, Brooklyn is No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Dragic wants to win his first championship. However, Nash and the Nets can offer the veteran guard a straightforward pathway to immediate playing time.

Indeed, Dragic can serve as a critical stopgap in Brooklyn’s backcourt.

A temporary solution in Ben Simmons’ and Kyrie Irving’s absences

The full-strength Nets have scary potential. The problem is, there’s no telling when they will officially get back to full strength.

Brooklyn acquired an elite perimeter defender and top playmaker in Ben Simmons. However, Simmons and the team have yet to set a possible timeline for his return from the court. Additionally, Kyrie Irving remains in a part-time role because he refuses to get vaccinated. That could change if New York City Mayor Eric Adams adjusts the city’s vaccine mandate, but that remains to be seen.

In any case, the Nets are missing a pair of backcourt players who are essential to their title hopes. Although rookie Cam Thomas has flashed in recent weeks, he’s more of a scoring guard than a guy who can operate the point efficiently.

Enter Goran Dragic.

The 14-year man has played more of a combo guard role in recent seasons. But he’s a capable facilitator and remains a strong shot-creator with his ability to break defenders down off the dribble and get into the restricted area. Dragic can also improve Brooklyn’s floor-spacing, given he’s a 36.4% shooter from beyond the arc in his career.

The Nets can look to Dragic as their point guard until Simmons is ready or Irving receives full-time clearance. Even if Brooklyn has all its pieces back and healthy, however, Dragic can still provide offense off the bench.

Where will Dragic sign?

The teams interested in Dragic have done all they can. Now, the decision lies solely with him. Where will he sign?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers are both contenders to sign Dragic. The Lakers need stability in light of Russell Westbrook’s tumultuous season, while the Clippers could use another backcourt piece after the injury to Normal Powell. Wojnarowski included the Chicago Bulls as a suitor, but they might not have a concerted effort in adding more after signing Tristan Thompson from the NBA buyout market.

The Nets and Bucks feel like the best bets in terms of Dragic’s final destination. Milwaukee currently finds itself just 2.5 games back of the No. 1 seed in the East and could offer more win-now upside and competitive stability.

However, Brooklyn remains a tantalizing option for Dragic, both because of the connection with Nash as well as the vital role he could play for what might be a scary contender in the very near future.

*Editor’s Note: Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that Dragic is signing with the Nets shortly after the publication of this piece.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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By: Martin Fenn
Title: The Nets Could Shockingly Steal Goran Dragic Away From the Bucks
Sourced From: www.sportscasting.com/nets-shockingly-steal-goran-dragic-from-bucks/
Published Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2022 17:16:17 +0000

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