Goran Dragic today confirmed that he’ll turn down his $7.5MM player option for next season, as he’s long planned to do, tweets Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. The point guard continued to talk up his affection for the Heat during an exit interview with the media today while stopping short of commiting to a return. The Heat can offer a fifth year this summer because they have his Bird rights, and that extra year will be “huge,” Dragic said, according to Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post (Twitter link).
“I had a great time in Miami and I want to come back, but we’ll see what happens,” Dragic said, as Lieser tweets.
Dragic said the Heat meet all of the criteria he’s looking for in a team from the basketball standpoint, and he already named Miami his favorite U.S. city, as Lieser relays (Twitter link). Still, the BDA Sports Management client said that he’ll consider every offer this summer, Winderman notes (on Twitter).
The 28-year-old Dragic, who turns 29 next month, reportedly had the Knicks and Lakers in addition to the Heat on his list of preferred destinations as he pushed for a midseason trade from Phoenix. Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News reportedly briefly after the trade that Dragic viewed the Lakers as a “perfect fit” and would relish the chance to join the team in free agency this summer. Still, Sean Deveney of The Sporting News heard at about the same time that Dragic would probably re-sign with the Heat, and the expectation was that the Heat would make a five-year max offer to bring him back, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made it clear to the media today that he wants to retain Dragic as well as Luol Deng, as Lieser relays in a full story. Deng also has a player option for next season.
“We love them; hopefully they love us,” Spoelstra said. “I love working with them and our staff loved working with them. They’re two pros. From an objective point of view, they’re not difficult guys to work with. They’re absolute pros, the kind of guys you want to build your team around, the guys you want to go to work with, the guys you want to be in a foxhole with. The next two months [the playoffs], what that feels like, you want to have guys like that. When this thing kicks off this weekend, you have to have reliable professionals, and both of those guys’ resumes and careers scream that.”