The Rockets are considering a pursuit of Goran Dragic if he turns down his $7.5MM player option to hit free agency next summer, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The Lakers are one of many teams around the league also likely to push for Dragic and Eric Bledsoe if they both become unrestricted free agents a year from now, Stein also hears. The prospect that the pair would hit free agency, which hinges on Bledsoe accepting his qualifying offer from the Suns, would prompt teams to go after the guards based on the idea that the Suns would have trouble re-signing both of them in the same summer, as Stein explains.
The apparent worsening relationship between Bledsoe and the Suns makes it tough to envision him re-signing with the team if he takes the qualifying offer, Stein writes. That makes sense, since only one of the 16 players to hit unrestricted free agency the year after signing a qualifying offer re-signed with his team. Bledsoe and the Suns are both pursuing sign-and-trades that would ward off the qualifying offer, according to Stein, but time is running short, since the qualifying offer expires on October 1st, a date that will force a decision.
Dragic would garner increased leverage if Bledsoe inks the qualifying offer, since the Suns almost certainly don’t want to lose both members of their dynamic starting backcourt, as Stein points out. Dragic flourished like never before in coach Jeff Hornacek‘s system this past season, but he’ll turn 29 in May, so there’s a decent chance that the client of BDA Sports Management will never have a better chance to cash in and take the most lucrative deal on the table. Dragic spent parts of two seasons with the Rockets in between stints with Phoenix, and Houston is among the teams with interest in signing his brother, who apparently envisions coming to the the NBA before long.
The Lakers reportedly had interest in floating a lucrative offer sheet to Bledsoe this summer before deciding against it. They can open roughly $30MM in cap space next year, while Houston is set up for only about half of that amount. Still, the Suns only have about $17MM in commitments for 2015/16, so they have plenty of room to accommodate the demands of Bledsoe and Dragic, should they choose, and they’d also have Bird rights on the duo.