On Goran Dragic’s Phoenix Suns future

The Phoenix Suns have won 14 of 20 games finished by Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, yet national media members continue to believe the team will eventually split the tandem up.

Phoenix — which dropped to 5-6 when missing a star guard (including the OKC game Dragic left early in the second half) after Thursday’s loss to Memphis — has played at a .700 clip that’s bettered by only five elite teams with both stud guards, but there’s a reason CBS Sports’ Ken Berger is the latest reporter to speculate the Suns might eventually trade one of them.

Berger wrote:

“League sources say the pairing of Bledsoe and Dragic in the backcourt is not expected to be a long-term solution for the Suns. The growing belief among league executives is that Dragic will opt out of his contract following the 2014-15 season, potentially ramping up the pressure on GM Ryan McDonough to pursue a trade.”

Dragic has averaged 18.9 points, 5.9 assists, 2.9 boards and 1.4 steals per game in his finest season yet. He will be entering his age 29 season when he must decide whether or not to exercise his player option for the 2015-16 campaign worth $7.5 million.

The Dragon already took a discount when he signed that four-year, $30 million deal during the 2012 offseason, and he did so as a player who had never commanded a team as a starting point guard aside from his scorching hot finish to the 2011-12 season after Kyle Lowry got hurt. During his first season and two months back with the Suns, he’s clearly outplayed his $7.5 million a year contract, and after seeing the kind of deal Bledsoe will sign this offseason for putting up (thus far) very similar numbers, every sane agent would advise Dragic to opt out if he sustains his level of play and stays healthy.

That, of course, does not mean he would necessarily want to leave Phoenix. It just means he would want to receive market value for 2015-16 and start his next long-term contract with an extra prime year included. After all, he considers Phoenix his home in the United States and already came back once despite being traded.

So to me the likely Dragic opt out is not news. He was always going to opt out after three years if he performed the way Phoenix expected him to. The question is whether the Suns will want to commit major dollars to make Dragic and Bledsoe cornerstone pieces for the next half decade or whether they will eventually deal one of them.

Considering the team’s success and the disruptive nature of such a trade, I would not expect anything to happen until the offseason. At that point, the Suns will have had a year to evaluate the pairing. Dragic on a $7.5 million a year psuedo-expiring deal in the midst of his prime would be a very enticing asset and could be the starting point of a blockbuster trade the Suns seem to be loading up for.

For example, if Kevin Love becomes available as seemingly every Suns fan on Twitter seems to think will eventually happen, Dragic would be a superb asset either to send to Minnesota or package in a three-way deal for a player that fits Minnesota’s plan better. Personally, there’s no young superstar I would rather acquire then Love, but I’m not as optimistic as others that the Wolves will eventually look to move him. That being said, if Love ever were put on the trade block, what team would be in a better position to deal for him than the Suns?

The Suns could also acquire a third stud below Love’s class to complement Bledsoe and Dragic and just re-sign Dragon. Their 2015-16 salary structure currently only includes cheap rookie deals, so the Suns could still build a quality young team around Bledsoe, Dragic and a third sizable salary. If that third stud is a rookie the team trades up for in the upcoming draft, even better financially.

The fact that Dragic will probably decline his player option does not say anything about the Suns’ future. That time will come next offseason when the Suns can try to find trade value for Dragic’s below-market value contract or prepare to eventually re-sign him and build around DragonBlade for the foreseeable future.

Tags: Goran Dragic

  • KayGee

    I say the best thing for the Suns to do is try to get Kevin Love in the off-season, especially if the WOlves don’t make the playoffs this year! They definitely should keep the Slash Bros intact, bc that’s the foundation w plunked in the middle. Kieff Morris has to be the chip included in a trade along with 2 future draft picks (2014)

  • giririsss

    Why are people so desperate to get Kevin Love on this suns team?

    He’s terrible defensively. He’s a good shooter, and good rebounder. Which is nice. But he’s ultimately, incredibly terrible defensively.

    When you consider he’s going to want a max contract, it makes fitting pieces around love difficult. You would already need to have a defensive specialist C signed for a long term budget contract, or life will be forever a revolving door down there. I like Miles but it’s yet to be seen just how good he is defensively.

    Part of the reason the wolves are so bad defensively (and overall) is that neither Pekovic nor Love have any athleticism with which to defend the PnR, or help from the weak side. That’s despite Rubio being one of the better defensive guards in the league.

    Love makes as much or more sense on the Rockets/Pacers/Bucks/Magic/Toronto than on the Suns.

    Stretch 4′s are great. Particularly if they can rebound the way Love does, among all the other little things he does well. But if the Big your paying a max contract too is terrible on defense, then you’re starting a long way behind. Where as Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Chandler, Dwight all provide solid examples of why the opposite is true.

  • Chris

    I guess I am not the only one that feels Gragic will be traded eventually. I was starting to think I was crazy to think that would happen. It is tough letting go of home grown talent, but if it makes us a better club then I am all for it. If we trade Gragic and get nothing or garbage it won’t be worth it. If we get a 1st round pick for a solid PF it will be worth it. Maybe a true SG. Don’t know why I have never taken to Gragic but I have always felt he isn’t the permanent answer. Felt that way since he came back. I could be wrong though. I felt it was a mistake to sign Nash and we know how wrong I was there!

  • Russell’s Suns

    If Hornacek and McD plan to run their organization like Pop in SA, there really is no chance that either (Bledsoe or Dragic) will be traded.

    At 11 million per a year or so there really is no reason not to keep both of them for the next 5 years. McD and The Suns are well aware that Dragic and Bledsoe are the Core and to win a championship you build around the core and add more core players, really unless someone offers Paul George, Kevin Love, Demarcus Cousins, or the top 3 picks in the NBA draft this year, there really is no chance McD allows a trade to happen.

  • Russell’s Suns

    Two things happened last night, D’Antoni introduced the birth of the new Kendell Marshall, and Chris Paul injury taking him out for 3-5 weeks has opened the up the Pacific the division even more, Golden State is licking it’s chops.

    Speaking of Golden state, anyone noticed the difference beetwen their record with Iggy and with out Iggy? That’s teh power of having a superior defensive small forward in the NBA. Enter Loul Deng, considered the best defensive small forward in the NBAwith his size he can guard the Paul George, Durant, Lebron, and any other small forward in the league, the Suns must land Deng, he will a big time difference maker on defense and he will a 3rd player that can create his own shot (right now only Dragic and Bledsoe can do that).

  • EBJM

    Incredible! In his 4th NBA start, and 1st as a Laker Kendall Marshall pulls off a Linsanity impression.

    Going against rookie Trey Burke he posts 20/15/6 with only one T.O. while holding Burke to 6 points on 20% shooting.

    So Phoenix gave away the Laker’s PG of the future.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Real Al

    Kendall Marshall is a bust!! I wouldnt read much into that performance. Heck, its the Utah Jazz and Trey Burke. Enough said.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Real Al

    Ohhh and not to worry, Dragic WONT be traded as he is part of the next great suns core moving forward. This is according to McD himself when he mentioned it in his weekly interview with KTAR. Dont believe me, heres the link…enjoy! :-)


  • Al

    @ Russ GS is a contender with Iggy on the floor. They are 8th seed material without him.
    I think Deng would be a GREAT pickup for PHX in the off season. He should be 1 to 2 million less than Iggy since he is not as good as a distributor. A contract similar to Gerald Wallace is good. (40mill/4)

    I think Bledsoe deserves an 55mill/5yr contract…not MAX. Bledsoe would be deserving of the max if he was more of a distributor at the PG position or was 6 inches taller. Baby Lebron’s style of play is a recipe for potential injuries. I see Bledsoe playing similar to Kyle Lowry of 2 years ago with the Rockets…before he got injured.
    Dragic, if he opts out, should get a contract similar to Steve’s when he played for the Suns at 9.75 mill per year tops.
    However, Phoenix still has to find a way to fix the rebounding issues. I hope Len is able to fix that. Markieff SHOULD NOT be playing minutes at the 5 spot.

  • EBJM

    To giririsss, this is just conversation since you mentioned it. Using SportVU player tracking data @NBA.com, the following is posted:

    Roy Hibbert is the leader in making a defensive impact. They use steals, blocks and rim protection which includes shots attempted, made and FG% of opposing players when the defensive player is within five feet of the offensive player who is within five feet of the rim.

    Players attempt 9 shots at the rim against Hibbert, Jordan, Howard, & Ibaka who are the premier shot-blockers.

    Interesting though is that Plumlee is ranked #8 and he gets to 10 shots per game. Robin Lopez is ranked #11 and he also gets to 10 shots per game.

    Hibbert limits players to only 41% at the rim though while Plumlee is at 48% but Robin is at 44%. Jordan allows 52% Howard 48%, Davis and Ibaka are at 44%.

    Now lets check out Love: He allows 59% FG at the rim on nine shots. So he is getting to the same amount of shots as the premier shot-blockers so he is staying with somebody but they only are making one extra shot against him.

    But he would be paired with Plumlee who is athletic enough to help Love. Then you factor in Love’s 13.5 boards every night and how it helps Plumlee out. Love also can score.

    Use the Blazers as an example. Aldridge is ranked #43 but is paired with Robin who is #11. Aldridge gets to 8 shots and allows 50% FG.

    So while everyone wants to paint Love as horrible on defense, in exchange for his 26 points on 59% TS and 13.5 boards he gives up an extra two points per game BUT that could improve playing alongside Plumlee instead of Pekovic.

  • http://none Go Phx

    I’d rather just keep the Dragon and sign or trade for Greg Monroe or someone similar or see what happens with the picks. The only thing that could make me possibly willing to part with Dragic in any deal would be if Archie starts to play a lot more like Kobe. Until then, Goran better be a damn Sun.

  • KayGee

    People are hating on KLove already!! Geez, people are always writing negative comments, its like fans won’t be happy with any player unless its LeBron or Jordan & even then they’ll come up with something negative about that player! Love is weak defensively but that why you surround him with defensive players aka dragic Bledsoe Tucker & plumlee, his offensive skills outweigh his defensive skills by a ton!

  • Dave:f32

    Kevin Love is overrated

  • Dave:f32

    I dont see how KLove is much different from what the Suns already have in Markieff Morris.

    With the exception of a couple more rebounds, he does the same things and still leaves a defensive liability.

    Plus, KLove is gonna have to be way overpaid to play for the Suns. Sure, the FO doesnt mind cuz they are seeing dollar signs as a marketing tool to capitalize on a marquee big name, but which offers no more different to the personnel than what we already have. So, shut the front door on it already!!!

  • Dave:f32

    I have been trying to warn you all about Dragic getting traded but you guys dont listen.

    You spell Dragic like this, and Luol Deng like that! Deng is the same as what we have in PJ Tucker.

    I was against trading for GM early but i rather Greg Monroe is on this team before any of those two!

    #NBA Insider ssshhhh ;)

  • Dave:f32

    Keep Dragic or the dynamic of this team chemistry is completely altered and is inferior with Bledsoe being tonto.

  • Dave:f32

    Bledsoes already experiencing injuries to his knee, which Dragic has yet to have a problem with, Bledsoe being younger and hasnt even yet signed a long-term deal.

    Dragic is a stud. Period.

  • Dave:f32

    But knowing the Suns FO, they will shell out overpay millions for damaged goods, no Len pun intended!

    (cuz i think Len will recover well and contribute hopefully)

  • KayGee

    Typical hater fan…they’re the same ones that didn’t want Bledsoe I bet! K Love is way more clutch than Kieff you must not watch the NBA, bc you wouldn’t be saying that, overrated pfft really?! :/

  • Dave:f32

    Let me type slower for you, KayGee…
    I am not a K-e -v – i – n. L – o – v – e fan Lol

    Not for what the Suns would have to give up

    (cap space, key players, luxury tax high jacking preventing us from signing other players, draft picks, etc etc).. You get it, kiddo?!

    • KayGee

      What players (that want to be in Phx) the suns saving the luxury tax on who? Draft picks? I get it kid..you dont like a perfect fit, you want probably want or think LeBron huh….oh I know Kevin Durant maybe, how about Paul George…ahh I get it CP3 right! Yea I would want this guy calling the shots….he’s bring in all the super stars, every one but Love…why bc he costs too much, he plays no defense, he’s overrated, hes blah his this, hes mumble mumble mumble…oh nothing but negative but I know what im talking about..im a bball expert…dude you wasting space here, go create your own pg w hate & leave the comments to the real fans of the Suns! Like I said this guy is Bledsoe is “no Buenos guy” every one is overrated guy lol…go call Jim Rome & complain there…you

  • KeZ

    Imagine Blake Griffin in a suns uniform…

  • KayGee

    You probably dont even have the nba league pass huh…lol unless hes stein, Broussard, or even Aldridge himself

  • KayGee

    Blake on the suns with Frye being back up…suns are golden for yrs to come

  • noitallman

    I agree with some of the sentiment here. I think Dragic and Bledsoe combine perfectly and to trade one would be silly. They both play defense, both handle it, both get to the line and are both willing passers. They get along.

    I guarantee you that Bled-Dragic chestbump count has FAR surpassed the Dragic-Gortat count, and they played a couple of seasons together.

    I also agree that Love is not the guy. Building a championship from ground up can be done by piecing the parts around our two headed monster. Deng would be phenomenal, as he is at least as good defensively, if not better than Tucker, and would put PJ back to the bench strengthening the bench D a bit.

    I would love to see the suns trade for Thad Young at the 4. If we got those two, we would be right there. 5 super solid yet no so starry starters, and a killer bench.

  • Dave:f32

    @noitallman -

    I agree with you! Thaddeus Young was a player i saw in the most recent meeting with the 76ers with good upside, being that he is still very Young ;).

    Ed Davis from Memphis was another one that i thought could fit the Suns profile.

    Deng has never appeared to me to have a very high basketball IQ, so he never appealed to me as a player for the Suns, even when there were rumors back in the Nash Era to get him here but never transpired.

  • Dave:f32

    @KayGee -

    Yabadabadoo! I dont speak for Scooby Snacks so lets agree to disagree, ok Juvenile. You probably thought i wasnt gon see that Ha! You probably thought u was really sayin somethin Ha! Lol
    You probably thought u was a real part of the Cash Money Ha!

  • Dave:f32

    There was a Nick the Quick sighting the other night on the Bucks bench. No surprise, as he is from Kenosha, WS. Good to see him schooling the youth bcuz he was an awesome player back in the day. He was a guard i used to study and incorporate some of his moves. I had more than a couple of my Nick the Quick moments on the court in my day!

  • Dave:f32

    The Bucks were atrocious. They need a real coach badly! The vets like Mayo and Butler should have been on the court the majority of the game bcuz those youngsters were extremely sloppy with the basketball. And we thought the 76ers were bad….

    • KayGee

      You dont speak juvenile but you sounded pretty good in you last few sentences but the fact of the matter is Love would be nice over Frye & that’s a fact, so how about you put up who you think is good & leave it at that

    • KayGee

      You dont speak juvenile but you sounded pretty good in your last few sentences there buddy but the fact of the matter is Love would be nice over Frye & that’s a fact, so how about you put up who you think is good & leave it at that