Goran Dragic signed to replace Steve Nash as Phoenix Suns reshape future on one crazy day

With a trade in between, Steve Nash is at long last passing the Phoenix Suns point guard torch on to Goran Dragic.

Somebody forget to tell the Phoenix Suns that the Fourth of July is a national holiday.

Along with being a day to celebrate this country’s independence with barbecues and fireworks, it will also be known as the day the Suns officially closed the book on the Steve Nash era and initiated a rebuilding process centered on talented young players that seemingly came together in the time it took John Hancock to sign the Declaration of Independence.

After trading Steve Nash to the Lakers and signing Michael Beasley to a three-year deal, the Suns finished their July 4 shopping spree by inking former and now current Nash heir apparent to a four-year deal worth $30 million, as The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reports, along with annual $1 million bonuses for making the All-Star team and a player option in the fourth year.

Although The Dragon returned in a quarter of the time, Dragic coming back to take over Nash’s point guard throne mirrors Two Time’s path in which he was traded from the Suns to the Mavericks after his second season and returned six years later via free agency.

Just as we thought two years ago after Dragic torched the Spurs in the playoffs and seemed to be the point guard of the future once Nash departed, that now will be exactly the case even after trading him away in a disastrous deal that netted Aaron Brooks for Dragic and a first-round pick.

Ironically enough, not only did The Dragon return hours after Nash officially became an ex-Sun, the move will likely require the Suns to take back their qualifying offer to Brooks to make him an unrestricted free agent.

Just as Steve Kerr was lauded for taking back his Shaq mistake after a season and a half, the Suns’ front office formally is acknowledging they messed up that Dragic trade by bringing him back.

Some thought they would not pursue Dragon this strongly because of how clear an admission of a mistake it would be to have dealt him in the first place, so it was great to see Suns management swallow their pride and bring Dragic home.

The Suns seemed to acquire their point guard of the future on draft day when they used the 13th overall selection to pick UNC point guard Kendall Marshall, yet by handing a four-year deal to the 26-year-old Dragic that may not be the case.

It was reported that Dragic would only consider destinations that promised him the starting job, and with the Suns wanting to bring Marshall along slowly that should be no problem this season. I speculated earlier this week that the Suns could start both Marshall and Dragic in the future were they to sign The Dragon, but that was before they inked Eric Gordon to the offer sheet. Presumably they did not draft Marshall to ride the bench for four seasons.

Of course, it could have just been a case of picking Marshall because he was best on their board and figuring the rest out later (as Blanks said they might do if they selected a big man), but now the Suns have a potential young asset to dangle to any team in need of a young point guard.

And wouldn’t you know, one such team is the New Orleans Hornets, a squad that reportedly considered Marshall at the No. 10 spot before settling on Austin Rivers. Based on what the Suns received for Joe Johnson in a sign-and-trade when he was a restricted free agent seven years ago (Diaw and two protected firsts), Marshall and two firsts (one from the Lakers trade) sounds fair.

The Suns very may well want both point guards, but now at least they have a position of strength to potentially deal from in an area of need for New Orleans (at least if you don’t consider Rivers a point guard).

The Suns may have been able to sign Dragic for cheaper than the $7.5-$8.5 million a year they ended up giving him because of his breakout finish to the 2011-12 season when Kyle Lowry got hurt had they never dealt him. Dragic averaged 18.5 points, 7.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game in April after putting up a 15.0-7.4-3.4 March just in time for his free agency money grab.

As many Suns fans know, he’s an able creator with a herky-jerky game and is adept both at hitting the three and driving inside for each hoops. Unlike the Suns’ former point guard, he’s also superb defensively and rather athletic. The Suns’ players and coaches largely loved Dragic and presumably are excited to get him back.

It will be impossible to truly analyze the Suns’ cap situations until we find out the exact dollars paid in the first year of each contract, but by committing $14.5 mil a year to Gordon, $7.5 to Dragic and $6 to Beasley, the Suns may need to amnesty Josh Childress and renounce all their current free agents just to make room under the cap for the signings. Depending on where those numbers end up, there should still be room for Robin Lopez, particularly if the Suns send a player to New Orleans for Gordon.

If Gordon isn’t matched and they do bring back Lopez, the Suns would be looking at a solid young lineup consisting of Dragic-Gordon-Beasley-Frye-Gortat and a bench of Marshall (or Telfair if Marshall is traded for Gordon)-Dudley-FA-Morris-Lopez. Dudley could probably cover the backup minutes at both the two and the three (where he is best suited) and Beasley could play some four, particularly before Frye retuns. Best of all, all of those players are in their 20s.

The Suns had four primary free-agent targets, and if they bring back Lopez they will have gone 4-for-4, so credit PBO Lon Babby for accurately assuaging our fears in May about nobody wanting to play for the Suns without Nash.

On a day filled with fireworks both in the sky and the transaction field for the Phoenix Suns, the organization at long last detached itself from the Nash era and entered a new age filled with exciting young players.

No longer will we wonder how many more years Nash will be the focal point of the franchise and when exactly this organization will start thinking about the future. That time is now, and I’m terribly intrigued by how all these pieces will fit together.

Babby has gone on record against tanking and rebuilds that start by stripping the franchise down to its bare bones.

The Suns are surely taking a chance that Gordon is healthy (and not matched), Beasley keeps his head on straight and plays to his potential one day and Dragic’s flurry to end the season was more than an outlier.

But after two years of trying to get younger while winning with Nash and Hill ended in mediocrity, today’s moves signal the start of a new generation of Phoenix Suns basketball chock full of talented young players.

Tags: Goran Dragic

  • shazam

    ok..beasley and goran are safely a suns…what if anything does this mean for actually getting gordon?…do we have to waive chilly?

    • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

      @Shazam It certainly appears as if Chilly will need to be amnestied.

  • Jason A.

    Great contract, exciting day. If we can get Gordon or someone almost as good I would think this is a 50 win team.

  • bk

    The remaining question is who is next target after NO matchs Gordon offer. It doesn’t hurt to use Aaron Brook as a 1-year rental of SG.

  • Die Hard Suns Fan

    @BK when they match , I believe the suns are gonna work super hard to work a sign and trade deal for Eric Gordon, and we got alot of pics from the lakers to give away and we can also give away a power forward and telfair as well , we got stuff to give away for sure !!!

  • Liam D.

    @bk instead of getting aaron brooks as a 1 year rental I would prefer the suns go out and sign oj majo to play at the 2 if and probably when the eric gordon deal falls through(there has been talks that they would be looking for a large piece in return as well as possibly picks, the major piece probably being gortat and if that happens they should pull the plug on the sign and trade stay with gortat)

  • bk

    So, there are $50M committed for 10 players assuming Gordon is not coming. There is still $8M left for a SG FA with amnesty.
    Dragic $8.5
    Gortat $7.26
    Childress $6.5
    Frye $6
    Beasley $6
    Warrick $4.25
    Dudley $4.25
    Lopez $4
    Morris $2
    Marshall $1.9

  • Die Hard Suns Fan

    pg – dragic , marshall
    sg – gordon , mayo
    sf – dudley , hill , brown
    pf – beasley, frye , warrick
    c – gortat , lopez

    amnesty childress to sign OJ Mayo
    brooks released fron RFA
    telfair , warrick , morris , redd and picks go to N.O. for Eric Gordon Sign and Trade.

  • Cam

    I love this signing but I hope this isn’t a precursor to using Kendall Marshall in a sign and trade deal for Eric Gordon. If the Suns have to give up Marshall, Keiff, or Gortat then I would rather see them sign Mayo to a midlevel contract. If he doesn’t mesh with the team then use a future pick on a young SG. The Suns have enough picks now that they could package them to move up and get a stud. Let Marshall play a year or two as a backup before you ship him out. Go Suns.

  • Die Hard Suns Fan


  • bk

    Gordon costs $14.5M. Even you amnesty Childress, there is no cap space to sign Mayo or other big name SG but minimum deal.

  • HankS

    I rather like the kind of deal the Suns were able to sign Dragic on, quite a bit less than he seemed to ask for. If Marshall develops quickly, Dragic shouldn’t be untradable in, say, two years.

    And I love the way the Suns’ management unequivocally admitted they were idiots when they traded the Dragon away two years ago. That actually shows some courage and character.

    That said, I’d have still prefered bringing Nash back and haveing him mentor Marshall…

    As for Nash going to the Lakers for a bunch of meaningless picks, to my mind this can only be justified if those meaningless picks are turned over to the Hornets in an Eric Gordon sign-and-trade.

    But I still think the Hornets will match, in which case the Suns are in deep trouble at No. 2…

  • Tony

    Wow, what a day! I’m so disappointed Nash is going to the freaking Lakers, it’s going to be so difficult to root for them. I commend Nash for not bailing the Suns and netting them nothing in return and I commend Robert Sarver for putting loyalty ahead of business.

    I know there are many Suns fans calling Nash a traitor, but that really is ridiculous considering he could have walked for nothing but instead the Suns will get a bunch of draft picks for him. With that being said, I just hope Grant Hill signs with the Lakers too, that way between Nash and Hill, those two will add at least some class.

    Although I’m still betting NO will match on Gordon’s offer, the Suns may have enough now to utilize a S&T for him. Michael, I don’t know the specific rules, but there’s no prohibition against the Suns using Beasley and/or Dragic in a potential S&T with Gordon is there? I would prefer them to send Marshall and the Lakers draft picks they received for Nash, so we’ll see.

    As I said I would, major props to Lance Blanks, Lon Babby, and yes Michael and Steve, props to ROBERT SARVER! I have to give him credit. I’m still not expecting them to land Gordon, but a starting lineup of Dragic, Dudley, Beasley, Morris, and Gortat, is a pretty solid lineup and one in which they can definitely build around.

    All in all though, today was a bittersweet day. Nash will get a chance to win a ring and to stay close to his family, and the Suns future is suddenly much brighter than it was yesterday. But darn it Nash, why did you have to choose the Lakers?!

  • cap

    Some clearing up: Gordon is not at 14.5, he’s at around 13 (they don’t actually use full 25% of cap as a maximum salary figure… look it up). And literally EVERYONE is saying that NOH will match so it’s kind of pointless anyway.

    Dragic can’t sign back ended deal like Asik or Lin or any of those guys, because he doesn’t fit under Gilbert Arenas provision (again… look it up), so in order for the contract to be 34 mil, like they’re reporting, first year salary would have to be at around 8 mil.

  • Boris

    marshall and the two laker first round picks for Eric Gordon is a pretty good deal. I think NOLA will have to do a sign and trade because Gordon has made it clear he will ask them not to match, they will match for a sign and trade. Playing River, Gordon, J. Jack together will be impossible, they are all scorers and volume shooters.

  • cap

    @Tony: They can’t trade newly signed players until December. So Dragic and Beasley can’t be included.

  • http://www.valleyofthesuns.com Michael Schwartz

    “As I said I would, major props to Lance Blanks, Lon Babby, and yes Michael and Steve, props to ROBERT SARVER! I have to give him credit.”

    OK, had to repeat that because I still can’t believe you just wrote that, Tony. :)

  • cap

    @Boris: Marshall and two picks in the 20s is a good deal for a player considered to be worth max contract? If you mean good for PHX then yeah, of course. If you mean good for NOH… then I don’t know what are you talking about.

    And NOH doesn’t have to work any sign-and-trade if they don’t want to. Gordon can ask all he wants, but once he signs that offer sheet he has no power over anything. He could have all the power if he just signed qualifying offer this year and became unrestricted next summer, but that would mean loosing TONS of money.

  • Ty-Sun

    I’m good with it all, even Nash going to the Lakers. They didn’t steal him away and Nash didn’t abandon ship to go ring chasing. The FO let him know that they wanted to move in a different direction and then made a deal with the Lakers to let Steve move on to his preferred destination. Steve did NOT run out on a team that really wanted him to stay, folks!

    I’m glad to see Dragic back and Beasley should be a good addition. Hopefully the Suns can work out a S&T deal with NO for Gordon but if not I hope NO lets us know quickly if it’s a possibility or not so that the Suns can maybe make a run at Mayo if it’s a definite “no deal”.

  • Scott

    I definitely don’t want to see the Suns trade away any of their key assets, which would include Marshall.

    The only players I consider expendable at this point are Warrick and Childress. And if the Suns lose Gordon, these guys can still fill roster spots.

    With no Gordon …

    Starters: Dragic, Dudley, Beasley, Frye, Gortat
    2nd unit: Marshall, Childress, Warrick, Morris, Lopez

    Backups: Telfair, player X, player Y

    Where players X and Y can be picked up from the pool of undrafted players and free agents. The Suns would be looking for a PF and a SG.

    If you look hard enough, there are usually quality undrafted players, like Jeremy Lin, Raja Bell, Avery Johnson, Bruce Bowen, Ben Wallace, and so on. There are also foreign players, like Goran’s brother, Zoran (who plays SG).

    As for Marshall needing considerable time before he can start … just look at how long Dragic needed. Three to four years is not ridiculous, it’s reasonably cautious.

  • shazam

    omg TONY…all you and steve have left to fight over is what product you will smoke in your peace pipe

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)


    I wanted revenge when they traded him. Paid for in FIRE AND BLOOD. /GameOfThrones.

    Beasley… eh, he worries me. I HOPE that under Gentry and him getting over 30 minutes a game and a lof of touches he can erupt. He still worries me.

    Also, I really really REALLY don’t want to trade Marshall. I think once the dust settles it’s Telfair who is in danger.
    All I can think about are all of the years the Suns didn’t have a quality backup point guard for Nash. I’d rather the Suns run Dragon and let Marshall mature with a stable bench mob than to trade him even if that means no Gordon.

    Even if Gordon ends up in a Suns jersey, I don’t think that’s a problem for Marshall. I think Marshall will see a lot of time here and there with the starters playing beside either Dragic or Gordon depending on rest and / or foul trouble.

    Lets not forget, Dragon can go INSANE as a ruthless scorer when called upon. He can play off the ball and with a pass-first guard like Marshall, I see that as a boon, not a problem.

    The draft picks are great too. We can use them for depth, package them to move up for a stud, or add one or two to a trade proposal. Any scenario leads to a good situation for Phoenix.

  • Ryan

    In retrospect, you still do the Dragic trade since if Dragic is never traded, he never gets a chance to start last season and if he never starts then we maybe never re-sign him, leaving Dragic to either be a back-up for the rest of his career or signing elsewhere for cheap and having a huge breakout season.

    So, trading Dragic was a win for both Dragic and the Suns since it allowed Dragic to finally start for an extended amount of time. He absolutely broke out and impressed the Suns enough to re-sign him. Dragic, being as loyal as he is actually signed here for a discount.

    Lastly, another reason why trading Dragic was a good thing is because in Houston, there was no pressure on Dragic when he became the starter. Yes, Lowry, the PG in front of him, is also a great young PG but he’s no legend. If we kept Dragic all of this time and made him the starter next season after Steve leaves, he would feel the immense pressure of having to replace Nash while ALSO having the pressure of being a first-time starter. Dragic already got being a full-time starter out of the way in Houston. Also, leaving and coming back gives Dragic more individuality. We’re signing Goran Dragic because he’s Goran Dragic. Where as, if he stayed he would somehow be expected to be the protege, Steve Nash 2.0 which isn’t fair to Dragic since that isn’t Dragic’s game.

    Goran will never, ever be the passer that Steve Nash is. However, there are many things that Dragic is better at then Steve is or ever has been. Dragic is a much, much better defender, he’s much more athletic, and overall I think he’s a better-rounded scorer. Steve has the the whole best shooter ever in the NBA part down but Dragic, while also being a fantastic shooter, is much better at beating guys off of the dribble one one without the help of a screen and forcing points off of steals.

    So, while Dragic wont be challenging for an assist title, I expect we will see 17 to 19PPG on good shooting numbers with 7.5 to 9APG, and 2 steals a night which is well worth the contract we gave him. Dragic’s play will be more like Kevin Johnson 2.0 than Steve Nash 2.0.

    With Beasley and hopefully Gordon, the Suns will have a bright young trio that I could see being yearly contenders for the top spot in the West. While the Lakers, Mavs, and Spurs get older and have to replace their superstars, we are getting younger. I could see Phoenix, OKC, and the Clippers being the top three teams out of the West in the coming years.

  • RC3973

    NO will not match.Its a bluff.also the suns will trade Warrick,Telfair,Redd,and picks for someone thats a star or move up to the top 5 in the draft and 10.drop childress and brooks to sign mayo and the team will consist of
    Starting 5:
    Marshall,Mayo,Dudley,Morris,Lopez for now.
    If these players are on the same page and healthy.They would be between the #3-5 seed in the west.LETS GO SUNS!!!

  • cap

    Why would NOH not match that offer? They have no big contracts moving forward, now that they traded Okafor and Ariza and bought out Rashard’s contract. The only way NOH doesn’t match Gordon offer is if they have serious concerns about his health. And if they do… then maybe it’s not such a great idea to get him for max and then be stuck with injury prone highly paid player that doesn’t actually play.

    And Warrick, Telfair, Redd and picks will not move you into top 5 and they will CERTAINLY not get you anybody that’s a star. So… if you want to dream, then keep dreaming, but that scenario has nothing to do with reality.

  • shazam

    @ cap..your quote———>”The only way NOH doesn’t match Gordon offer is if they have serious concerns about his health.”…uhhhhm thats not only NOT the only way..its not even the top reason…the top reason is if they gage that his heart won’t be in to playing for the hornets…58 million is a hefty price to pay for a sad sack who influences your youth movement

  • cap

    @shazam You really think a young guy entering his prime and making max money will play half-hearted basketball, potentially damaging his reputation and his future earnings? I just don’t see that happening.

    And I don’t think they can gage anything like that with enough certainty to just let a guy like Gordon go, for either nothing (if the just don’t match the contract) or inferior package (nothing that PHX has to offer comes close to a potential value of Gordon). They have no big salary commitments in the future and full control over potential franchise player in Gordon. Not re-signing him based on a huge assumption like ‘his heart won’t be in it’ would be mind-numbingly dumb and shocking.

  • shazam

    maybe you are right cap but so far no one has brought up health issues as a concern…not espn..,cbs sports,..sports illustrated etc. etc. etc. but most have brought up the sticky situation about attitude when it comes to todays athletes…if you called it right and are the only one to do so like it stands now…then ill be first in line to pay you respect

  • RC3973

    The suns have one of the best medical facilities in the nba ask grant hill who couldnt stay healthy asj redd,amare,nash,joe johnson remember grant before the suns couldnt play 28 games without sitting on the bench now in the best shape of his life with the suns facility.amare two knee surguries made him a top commodity again.

  • cap

    @shazam From what I’ve been reading no one has brought up ANY concerns. All I’m hearing from everywhere is “NOH to match Gordon offer”. ESPN, SI, Yahoo, you name it. Everywhere everyone says they will match it. What’s the value of bluffing like that? I don’t see one.

  • Greg

    Goran Gordon Beasley trio with frye/duds shooting, morris’s improvements, and gortat, the most underrated center in the league, the suns will be an exciting team in the west. The west is still loaded, the lakers just bought themselves a ticket to the west finals, the spurs will be tough, clippers, grizz, okc, dallas, utah, nuggets, twolves improving. However, the Suns should easily slot themselves in the 6-8 seed, barring injury or chemistry adjustments. They can run a modified SSOL offense with Goran at the controls, but with no Nash, that offense with that efficiency will not be seen for a long long time. NOLA ill match, and the sign and trade deal will be costly for the suns. Gortat is only untouchable piece, Marshall is a high character leader that we may miss one day…but the future is now. Sadly, Marshall and late 1st round picks wont get it done.

  • con

    Could we have got Ilyasova?

  • steve

    What a day! I can’t remember a single day in Suns history that had more going on than yesterday.

    @Tony – I can’t believe what I just read. Haha, I’m going to savor this moment, because I fear it’s going to be short-lived.

  • Vince

    I’m wondering… Do you think Sarver is spending this money to reach the minimum salary floor negotiated in the CBA or is it really spending to win?

  • Scott

    @Vince -

    I think the idea is you spend when it makes sense to.

    For instance, I think signing a player to a poison pill contract means that your team ends up having to swallow the poison pill. I’m not in favor of that, myself.

  • steve

    Well, seeing as how the Suns have consistently been in the top half of the NBA in spending, I’d say I have no idea why you’d even bother to make that comment, Vince. Care to justify that any further?

  • Tim from British Columbia

    While sad and really disappointed that Nash went to the nemesis Lakers, I am really happy that Dragon is back as I think this is a new begginning for the Suns. He is proving to be a very good PG and will only get better. If Suns get Gordon, it will be a formidable back court. I think Beasley can be a really good player too if he lives up to his potential. Yesterday was a shocker but today is at least getting better…

  • Mel.

    I remember throwing up a joke post about this exact thing about three months ago, after the latest round of buzzables regarding Nash’s departure… though it was more a condemnation of how backwards the Suns’ management was in its thinking, and how gloomy the prospects of having these guys in charge of our future rebuilding really was.

    Of course, this was right on the cusp of Dragic suddenly undergoing some kind of basketball-playing werewolf transformation, and shaking loose the issues with clumsy inconsistency and blossoming into the PG we’d always hoped for… while sporting the Rockets’ red and white. I don’t have any godly clue what happened to the kid once the Suns kicked him out the door–if it was a means to shucking the stigma of being “Nash’s apprentice” and the expectations that went with it, or just a case of therapeutic fury, at having been bunted for so little–but I remember getting that familiar “Ah, we train him up and then watch him go into AS mode for another franchise” twinge in my guts, especially while watching the Suns play Houston on TNT.

    Though for once, we appear to have bucked a lifelong trend and have actually gotten one of our prodigal Suns back, just in time for him to realize his potential in a familiar system. Not the end of all things in terms of what this team needs, but–on a day when we had to watch MVSteve basically strip off his warm-ups and reveal an nWo jersey underneath–a much-needed boost of moral for us foolish believers.

  • Lloyd I. Cadle

    Rebuilding a talented young team has never been this easy!

    Good stuff, so far!

  • shazam

    agree w/ u cap on that point

  • Cam

    Can someone tell me where Hill is going? I haven’t seen much about him, but I did hear he might follow Nash. Is this true?

  • Die Hard Suns Fan




  • Mel.

    “Can someone tell me where Hill is going? I haven’t seen much about him, but I did hear he might follow Nash. Is this true?”

    The popular post-trade “spin” has Hill being “actively recruited” by Nash, to join him in Los Angeles. I don’t see where that makes any sense for the Lakers, unless they’re amnestying MWP, punting Barnes for chump change and basically painting themselves into a corner where a 40-year-old player coming off another notable injury is seen as being a defensive solution.

    Hill doesn’t offer anything that Artest doesn’t already do, and–as little as I care for MWP–he’s the younger and more physical option, in terms of what Grant can do.

  • cap

    NOH trading Gordon for Lopez, Warrick, Telfair and 2 picks is as probable as me making the Suns roster this year. Seriously… if you’d call with that offer NOH would think they’re on some radio prank show.

  • Ty-Sun

    LAL is actively shopping MWP but are finding no takers. There has been a rumor that they might actually even amnesty him to clear some cap space if they can’t find a trade partner.

  • RC3973

    Mayo,crawford, and Camby are all interested in coming to PHX.NOH will not match the offer for gordon because they are now seeking to get J-smooth like the suns were doing at one point.they have the capabilities to pull it off as well.

  • Mel.

    ^Crawford’s apparently signing up with the Clippers, though Gordon and Mayo are still “in the mix,” in terms of potential destinations.

  • GoSuns

    @mel, I thought I saw a report that barnes is interested in signing with golden state simewhere

  • Mel.

    @gosuns – if I were him, I’d be on my way out of Dodge on the next bus. He went from being a viable option to basically being the guy who served Gatorade to Josh McRoberts, thanks to Brown’s inability to re-insert him into their rotations once he got back from his injury.

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