Goran Dragic might have been hesitant to join his Slovenian national squad for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain, so it surprised many when he committed to do just that earlier this week.
Or maybe it’s not so surprising considering the loyalty he displayed returning to Phoenix two years ago and then refusing to sit down during last year’s historically bad year.
Phoenix Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said Thursday that the team stands behind its point guard’s decision to join his national team, even if it does mean he will be putting his body through around round of battles.
“If he wants to play, we’re happy he wants to play, put it that way,” McDonough said. “He had the best year of his career last year after having come right off the European Championships. If that’s what he feels like he needs to do to get ready to play, then we support him.”
During Dragic’s MIP award ceremony this summer, coach Jeff Hornacek said he and McDonough visited Slovenia to watch Dragic as his country hosted the EuroBasket tournament in 2013. That’s when they saw the quiet point guard grow into the leader, and that, they believe, played a large part in his growth during the Suns’ 48-win season.
And while the team is OK with Dragic’s decision, they are working to keep their best player fresh for the 2014-15 campaign.
“It’s a great honor to play for your country,” McDonough said. “We want to be strategic and selective about how many exhibition games he plays in and his practice schedule to make sure his body is preserved for the year, but at the end of the day it’s his call and we support him 100 percent.”