The Phoenix Suns are operating under the belief that guard Goran Dragic could be persuaded to accept a five-year contract elsewhere, thus are pursuing trades with asset-rich teams outside of his preferred list of destinations, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
For Dragic, the Suns are pursuing packages that include a young player with significant potential and a first-round draft pick or two first-round picks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Suns signed Goran’s brother, Zoran, to a two-year contract last summer, largely as a way to make the Suns star more comfortable with re-signing with the organization. With Goran wanting out, the Suns are trying to attach Zoran to trade packages with him, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Suns owner Robert Sarver and his management staff, Lon Babby and Ryan McDonough, felt blindsided by the trade request on Tuesday night within two days of the deadline, league sources said. Sarver has had a long relationship with Dragic’s agent, Bill Duffy, which included a successful partnership with Steve Nash. There’s a tremendous amount of acrimony because of Dragic’s timing of telling management he wouldn’t sign an extension. It has left the Suns scrambling, with little time to cobble a deal together.
Goran Dragic has expressed an interest in playing with big-market clubs. (Getty)
The Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and Sacramento Kings have been initially aggressive in talks to obtain Dragic, who will be a free agent in July. Suns general manager Ryan McDonough seems determined to find a team willing to gamble on the ability to offer Dragic the most years and guaranteed money in July free agency, league sources said.
Like the Suns, any team that trades for him can offer Dragic, 28, a five-year, $100 million-plus contract extension.
After informing the Suns that Dragic wouldn’t sign an extension this summer, agent Bill Duffy delivered McDonough and management a list of preferred trade destinations that includes the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Miami Heat, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
The Knicks and Lakers don’t have the packages of players, draft picks available, or the motivation to make a competitive offer for Dragic, knowing that they have the salary-cap space to sign him to a four-year, $80 million deal this summer.
The Suns have until 3 p.m. ET at Thursday’s trade deadline to make a deal, or risk losing Dragic without compensation this summer.
Until Tuesday night, the Suns had been given hope that moving guard Isaiah Thomas would make Dragic more comfortable with re-signing, but it became clear in a meeting with management that he no longer wants to share a backcourt with Thomas and Eric Bledsoe, league sources said. Dragic has wavered on his feelings toward a future in Phoenix through the weekend, sources said, but ultimately decided that clearing out Thomas in a trade wouldn’t be enough to appease him.
For now, Dragic has decided he wants the ball in his hands, and the offense flowing through him, something that can’t always happen with Bledsoe sharing the backcourt with him.
The Suns committed a five-year, $80 million contract extension to Bledsoe this summer.
Dragic is averaging 16.2 points, 4.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds this season.