The feud between the Phoenix Suns and star point guard Goran Dragic came out of the blue on Tuesday, and it’s only gotten worse leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard is now reporting that league executives say Suns owner Robert Sarver has refused to accommodate Dragic’s trade request.
If Broussard’s report is true, it means the Suns are willing to lose Dragic for nothing this summer in order to cost him an extra $US20 million in free agency.
If Dragic leaves Phoenix in free agency, he can sign a four-year deal worth around $US80 million. Because the NBA’s salary rules incentivise players to re-sign instead of leaving in free agency, Dragic would have to leave $US20 million on the table to sign elsewhere. The Suns can offer him a five-year, $US100 million contract.
Phoenix can offer him more money than everyone else, but on Tuesday he told the team that he doesn’t intend to re-sign with them this summer. Dragic has seen his numbers fall across the board this year as he’s been forced to share minutes with Isaiah Thomas, who the team signed for $US28 million last summer.
He gave the Suns a list of destinations — Lakers, Knicks, Heat — that he preferred to be traded to. If Dragic is traded, whichever team gets him will be able to offer him that $US100 million contract.
The Suns have little leverage here. Dragic is going to leave for nothing in five months, so you have to trade him now to get something for him. A trade to one of Dragic’s preferred destinations seems to be the best move for everyone involved — Dragic gets his extra $US20 million, and the Suns get assets that wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
The only reason to not trade him now is if you believe he’ll change his mind and not be able to leave that extra $US20 million on the table when push comes to shove this summer.
If there’s really no hope that he’ll re-sign, the only reason to hang on to him is to deny him that $US20 million out of spite.
It sounds like there’s no hope in him re-signing, and yet the Suns are reportedly not going to trade him.
According to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Sarver and his management staff felt “blindsided” by the trade request, especially since it came just 48 hours before Thursday’s trade deadline.
Dragic, for his part, is mad too. At a press conference on Wednesday he said, “I don’t trust them anymore. It happens too many times. Two, three times they give promises.”
Since Dragic joined Phoenix, the Suns have consistently brought in other point guards. They traded for Eric Bledsoe, signed Thomas, and drafted Tyler Ennis. Dragic has apparently had enough.
It’s an ugly situation. But even if Sarver is infuriated that Dragic has all the power here, the only rational move is to trade him.
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