Goran Dragic

Southwest Notes: Mavs, Dragic, Rockets, Pelicans, Spurs

The Mavericks intend to explore the possibility of signing veteran guard Goran Dragic in free agency this offseason, sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Dragic and the Mavericks have frequently been linked in the past, in large part due to Luka Doncic‘s presence in Dallas. Doncic and Dragic, who are both from Slovenia, have played together in international competitions and appear to have interest in teaming up in the NBA as well.

Dragic will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason and the Mavericks project to have more open roster spots than expected after agreeing to a four-for-one trade for Christian Wood. Trey Burke will be one of the outgoing pieces in that deal, so even if Jalen Brunson re-signs with Dallas, the club could use another point guard for depth purposes.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Auburn big man Jabari Smith was straightforward in explaining why he hasn’t felt the need to visit with the Rockets in the weeks leading up to the 2022 NBA draft, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays. The Rockets hold the No. 3 pick in the draft, but Smith only visited the Magic (No. 1) and Thunder (No. 2). “I don’t see myself falling below two,” Smith said. “Just keeping that mindset going into to it, that’s kind of my mindset. That’s why I kept it to those two.”
  • In a pair of stories for The Athletic, Will Guillory explores how the Pelicans‘ strategy in the draft has evolved since David Griffin was hired in 2019, and answers mailbag questions about the No. 8 pick and potential trade candidates on the roster. Guillory doesn’t think New Orleans will aggresively try to move Devonte’ Graham, but expects the team to gauge his market to see what’s out there.
  • Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic indicated on his Instagram story today that he’s in San Antonio to work out for the Spurs, tweets James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Stefanovic doesn’t show up on ESPN’s list of 2022’s top 100 prospects, making him a long shot to be drafted.

Texas Notes: Rockets, Wood, Dragic, Roddy, Williams

The players the Rockets will acquire when the Christian Wood trade becomes official may never play for the team, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston has agreed to send Wood to the Mavericks in exchange for the 26th pick in next week’s draft and four players on expiring contracts, Boban MarjanovicSterling BrownTrey Burke and Marquese Chriss.

Chriss and Brown both played for the Rockets before, but aren’t expected to be invited to training camp, according to Feigen. He cites Marjanovic as the most likely player to remain with the organization because of his abilities on offense and his willingness to accept a backup role, but adds that Marjanovic’s fate won’t be determined for a while.

None of the players will make more than $3.5MM next season, so they could be waived without a significant impact to the Rockets’ financial situation or they could be moved in other deals. Houston will have 16 players under contract once the deal is complete, along with its two-way players and three picks in the first round of the draft.

There’s more NBA news from Texas:

  • Wood’s time with the Rockets has seemed limited ever since the team traded up in last year’s draft to select Alperen Sengun, notes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Despite Wood’s unique talents, he wasn’t successful at power forward alongside Daniel Theis at the start of the season and he didn’t fit well next to Sengun. Wood also didn’t offer much rim protection as a center and he may not have been interested in re-signing with Houston because of his desire to be with a playoff team, Iko adds.
  • Marjanovic was one of Luka Doncic‘s best friends on the team, but the Mavericks could appease Doncic by pursuing fellow Slovenian guard Goran Dragic in free agency, suggests Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).
  • Colorado State’s David Roddy is scheduled to work out for the Mavericks on Friday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Dallas won’t have any picks once the Wood deal goes through, but the team could try to trade into the late first round or early second round, where Roddy is projected to be taken.
  • Arkansas big man Jaylin Williams worked out for the Spurs on Tuesday, according to Andrew Slater of Pro Insight (Twitter link). Along with three first-round picks, San Antonio has the No. 38 selection, where it could target Williams, who is projected as a mid second-rounder.

Cavaliers Rumors: Sexton, LeVert, Trade Targets, More

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com recently spoke to Michael Scotto about a number of Cavaliers-related topics for the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast.

Guard Collin Sexton, whose season ended prematurely after suffering a torn meniscus in his left knee just 11 games into the season, will be an interesting player to watch this summer. Sexton will be a restricted free agent once Cleveland tenders him a $7,228,449 qualifying offer. As a restricted free agent, the Cavs will have the ability to match any offer sheet for the 23-year-old, and since he’s coming off an injury and not many teams will have cap space to spend on free agents, a reunion seems likely.

When the Cavs were discussing a rookie scale extension with Sexton’s representatives last summer, the two sides floated a contract similar to the one Bogdan Bogdanovic received from Atlanta, which was four years and $72MM (with a player option in the final season), sources tell Fedor. However, he hears that the Cavs value Sexton in the $15-18MM per year range, while Sexton is seeking something closer to $18-22MM annually.

Although Sexton has undoubtedly been productive on the offense end, averaging 24.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.4 APG on .475/.371/.815 shooting in 2020/21, Fedor notes that there were questions about Sexton’s fit entering ’21/22, and his injury and the team’s success without him didn’t help his case. Given that he’s a 6’1″ shooting guard and a subpar defender, some teams view the former No. 8 pick as more of a sixth man than a starter, which could hurt his leverage in contract negotiations.

Scotto wonders if the Knicks or Wizards might be interested in Sexton, noting that both teams are looking for guards, but neither team has cap space. As Fedor previously reported, he hears that Cleveland has been curious if the Pistons might pursue Sexton, but sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers don’t believe any team will end up offering him $20MM+ per season.

Here’s more from Scotto and Fedor:

  • Both the Cavs and Caris LeVert have expressed interest in reaching an extension this summer, and league executives tell Scotto that a shorter deal in the $19-21MM range might make sense for both sides. However, as Fedor observes, LeVert will be on an expiring $18.8MM contract in ’22/23, so if the Cavs don’t like the types of numbers Levert’s agents are throwing out, they could just wait it out and perhaps use him as trade bait next season.
  • Kevin Love improved his trade stock after a bounce-back, healthy season, and both Scotto and Fedor believe that his $28.9MM contract could be used as a trade chip if the team opts to pursue higher-paid veterans.
  • Noting Cleveland needs two-way wing scorers and a solid backup point guard for Darius Garland, Fedor hears the Cavs are interested in a number of veterans as potential trade targets: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Bojan Bogdanovic, Gordon Hayward, Tobias Harris, Harrison Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., Jerami Grant, Aaron Gordon, Andrew Wiggins, and Mike Conley.
  • Although there’s mutual interest in a reunion with Ricky Rubio, Fedor says money could become an obstacle to a deal being completed. Rubio is likely to miss at least a portion of next season after suffering a second torn ACL in his left knee in December, and using the mid-level exception to sign him would reduce the club’s flexibility while still leaving a hole on the roster until he returns.
  • Sources tell Fedor that if a deal with Rubio doesn’t come to fruition, the Cavs would be very open to using their full mid-level to sign Grizzlies backup point guard Tyus Jones, assuming Memphis lets him walk in free agency and he’s unable to get more money elsewhere. Other guards Cleveland might look into in free agency are Delon Wright, Goran Dragic, and Raul Neto. If the Cavs pivot to a wing/forward, Kyle Anderson, Jeremy Lamb, and T.J. Warren are possibilities, according to Fedor.
  • For potential draft candidates with the No. 14 pick, Fedor hears the Cavs are fans of Malaki Branham, Johnny Davis, Bennedict Mathurin, Tari Eason, TyTy Washington, and Jeremy Sochan. Those players range from Nos. 9-18 on ESPN’s big board, so some might not be available at 14.

Central Notes: Bagley, Jones, Wright, Dragic, Bulls

The Pistons are prepared to make a three-year offer to restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III, James Edwards III of The Athletic reports. He fit a need for an athletic big man, which is why they traded for him just before the deadline. However, Bagley may seek a shorter deal and test the open market if his stock rises, so that he can get a bigger payday.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • It has been reported that the Cavaliers would entertain a reunion with free agent guard Ricky Rubio. However, there are other options on the table to provide backcourt depth, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs are also expected to show interest in several other unrestricted free agents, including Tyus Jones, Delon Wright, Raul Neto and Goran Dragic, says Fedor.
  • Which players should the Bulls retain and which ones should they shed? Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic takes a closer look at that topic in a player-by-player breakdown. Mayberry’s position on unrestricted free agent Zach LaVine? He’s one of the keepers.
  • DeMar DeRozan said he’s open to recruiting players to Chicago, but Bulls coach Billy Donovan said no matter what happens in the offseason, expectations need to be tempered, Jon Greenberg of The Athletic writes. “I think you have to be careful, and what I mean by that is, we got off to a really, really good start this year,” he said. “And it was really impressive to me with a new group that hadn’t had a lot of time together that they could jell and mesh the way they did. We’ll actually have to work harder going into this offseason and next year to even get back to this point.”

Nets Rumors: Simmons, Irving, Harris, Curry, Dragic

When Ben Simmons and agent Rich Paul met with Nets leadership – including GM Sean Marks – earlier this week, Simmons told the people in the room that he’s experiencing a “mental block,” which is creating stress that could be exacerbating his back problems, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The setback Simmons experienced prior to his anticipated Nets debut in Game 4 of the team’s first-round series vs. Boston was initially described as a physical one — he was said to be suffering from renewed back pain. But Charania’s report suggests there are still mental obstacles to clear before Simmons returns to the court.

Reporting this week from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report and Michael Scotto of HoopsHype backs up that idea. Fischer wrote that it’s “quite clear that the mental aspect of Simmons’ return to game action is the biggest hurdle” he has to overcome, while Scotto has heard from a source close to Simmons that the 25-year-old is “going through it right now mentally.”

According to Charania, Nets officials told Simmons in this week’s meeting that the franchise is willing to do whatever is necessary to support him, and Scotto hears that the team has indeed been “supportive at every turn,” making the three-time All-Star more comfortable than he was in Philadelphia. Simmons didn’t end up making it back this season, but Scotto’s source is “very confident” he’ll return to action next season.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Echoing Jake Fischer’s reporting from earlier in the week, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggests a Simmons trade this offseason is unlikely because teams are warier than ever about his condition. A source from a non-playoff team that was previously interested in Simmons told O’Connor, “We’re at the point we’d want to see him play first.”
  • Within his story on the Nets, O’Connor writes that there were “crickets” earlier in the 2021/22 season when the team was reportedly willing to listen to trade inquiries on Kyrie Irving.
  • The Nets had some interest in acquiring an athletic wing defender such as Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, or Marcus Smart prior to this year’s trade deadline, according to Scotto, who thinks the team could explore the trade market for that type of player again this offseason. Scotto speculates that Brooklyn might dangle one of its sharpshooters – Joe Harris or Seth Curry – in those talks.
  • Goran Dragic, who turns 36 next Friday, isn’t considered retirement. The veteran point guard said this week that he’d like to play for two or three more seasons, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Dragic will be a free agent this summer after signing a rest-of-season contract with Brooklyn in February.

Atlantic Notes: Dragic, Curry, Brown, Thybulle, Raptors

The Nets will have their veteran point guard available for Tuesday’s play-in matchup against Cleveland. Goran Dragic has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols, Marc J. Spears of ESPN tweets. Dragic hasn’t played since March 31. Dragic’s backcourt partner, Seth Curry, will also play on Tuesday, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets. Curry has been dealing with an ankle injury.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Bruce Brown comes into the postseason in top form, Zach Braziller of the New York Post writes. Brown racked up 18 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and four blocks in a key win over the Cavaliers on Friday. The Nets swingman followed that up with 21 points against Indiana. Brown has made 12 three-pointers in the last six games. “Just all mental for me,” he said. “Just having confidence to shoot the ball. I got a lot of reps up this summer and during the year.”
  • Matisse Thybulle remains ineligible to play Games 3 and 4 in Toronto due to his vaccination status, Sixers coach Doc Rivers confirmed to ESPN’s Malika Andrews (Twitter link) and other media members. Thybulle explained why he decided not to get fully vaccinated to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com, among others, on Sunday. “I was raised in a holistic household, where anti-vax is not like a term that was ever used, it’s a weird term that has been kind of been thrown around to just label people,” Thybulle said. “We grew up with Chinese medicine and naturopathic doctors. Just with that upbringing, coming into the situation, I felt like I had a solid foundation of medical resources that could serve me beyond what this vaccine could do for me.”
  • The Raptors have been thriving with an unusual rotation, using no true centers in the starting lineup and numerous big men off the bench, John Hollinger of The Athletic notes. They have a strong core group and can use their full mid-level exception this offseason for a guard to improve their depth in that area, Hollinger adds.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Brown, Dragic, Curry, Edwards

After Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on SportsCenter on Sunday that it was “not realistic” to expect Ben Simmons to be ready for the Nets‘ first play-in game next week (hat tip to NetsDaily), head coach Steve Nash confirmed as much when he spoke to reporters on Monday.

The Nets are ruling out Simmons for the rest of the regular season and the play-in tournament, Nash told reporters, including Laura Albanese of Newsday and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic (Twitter links). If he’s going to make it back this season, Simmons’ return would have to come in the playoffs.

Although Simmons was able to do a little more at practice on Monday, Nash said the team doesn’t plan on scrapping its requirement that he must take part in at least three high-intensity workouts before being cleared. The three-time All-Star isn’t at that stage yet and has only been doing light shooting work.

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • After missing Saturday’s loss in Atlanta due to a non-COVID illness, Bruce Brown will be ready to play on Tuesday, tweets Schiffer.
  • Goran Dragic remains in Atlanta with COVID-19, tweets Schiffer. Nash is hopeful that the veteran guard will be back in time for one of the team’s final regular season games.
  • Seth Curry, who is battling ankle pain, didn’t do much at practice on Monday and Nash admitted that there has been some discussion about holding him out of the rest of the regular season to give him more time to rest the ankle (Twitter link via Nick Friedell of ESPN). The goal would be to make sure he’s as healthy as possible for the play-in tournament and playoffs.
  • Asked by Schiffer whether the Nets will give two-way player Kessler Edwards a standard contract this week in order to make him postseason-eligible, Nash didn’t rule out the possibility, but said he expects today’s roster to be the group he enters the play-in with (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Simmons, Dragic, R. Williams

The Sixers scored 144 points in beating the Hornets this afternoon, easing concerns that the offense has stagnated since James Harden arrived. Philadelphia snapped a three-game losing streak as Harden reverted to the playmaker role he adopted after being acquired from the Nets in February, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He took just 10 shots from the field and handed out 13 assists while playing three quarters in the blowout.

“Like I said, it’s possession by possession, game by game,” Harden said. “Some games I need to be a little more aggressive. But with all that said, I think when all of us are playing well together and on the same page, we got a very, very good chance to win.”

Coach Doc Rivers compared Harden’s situation to what Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen experienced when they joined the Celtics. It’s harder to put up impressive stats on teams with multiple scoring options.

“His numbers are not going to be like his numbers in Houston, because he’s playing with a pretty good player [Joel Embiid],” Rivers said. “So those types of numbers I would never compare him to or anybody to.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rivers was relieved the Sixers were able to work out a deal for Ben Simmons at the deadline, saying his standoff with the team was becoming too much of a distraction, per Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated“The guys were just over it,” Rivers said. “We were winning games, and, every town we went to, we were talking about Ben. I don’t know if we could have gotten through the second half of the season with that hanging over our heads. I was praying something happened.”
  • Simmons traveled with the Nets for tonight’s showdown in Atlanta, but he was limited to “light shooting” before the game and didn’t move around much, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Coach Steve Nash said nothing has changed with Simmons’ status, adds Nick Friedell of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Nets guard Goran Dragic, who has entered health and safety protocols, is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, Nash said in a pregame meeting with reporters (Twitter link from Lewis). Nash added that Bruce Brown has the flu and hopefully will return soon. Seth Curry will miss tonight’s game because of soreness in his left ankle (Twitter link).
  • Celtics center Robert Williams was happy with the results of his meniscus surgery, tweets NBA writer A. Sherrod Blakely. “Everything went as well as we wanted to (with the surgery),” Williams said. “We have to take our time, make sure I’m healthy … everyone here cares about me long-term.”

New York Notes: Dragic, Brown, Porter Jr., Randle

Nets guard Goran Dragic has entered the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the team tweets. Dragic has been a rotation piece since signing with the Nets as a free agent, averaging 7.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 25.5 MPG through 16 games.

Bruce Brown has a non-COVID illness and will also miss Saturday’s contest against the Hawks.

We have more on the New York teams:

Kyrie Irving Now Exempt From NYC’s Vaccine Mandate

MARCH 24: In a press conference at Citi Field, Adams officially announced that New York City’s vaccine mandate exemption has been expanded to include local athlete and performers, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. That clears the path for Irving to begin playing in home games.

MARCH 23: Kyrie Irving has been unable to play home games the entire season for the Nets, but that could change soon.

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Jeff Passan relay, there’s cautious optimism that New York City’s private-sector COVID-19 vaccine mandate may be rolled back soon — Irving is unvaccinated, which is why he’s been unable to play in Brooklyn. Sources tell Wojnarowski and Passan that talks are progressing to the point that Irving may be able to return for home games as soon as next week.

Sally Goldenberg of Politco goes a step further than ESPN’s report, writing that NYC mayor Eric Adams plans to reverse the vaccine mandate for performers and athletes on Thursday.

Shams Charania of The Athletic hears the same as Goldenberg, reporting that Irving will be cleared on Thursday. The change will give exemptions to unvaccinated performers and athletes, Charania states, which is the current protocol for visiting players (Twitter links).

Irving, who turned 30 today, is averaging 27.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 5.3 APG and 1.4 SPG on .490/.430/.901 shooting through 19 games this season. The seven-time All-Star holds a $36.5MM player option for next season and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer if he declines the option.

With a 38-34 record, Brooklyn is currently the No. 8 seed in the East. The Nets hold a one-game lead on the No. 9 Hornets and trail the No. 7 Raptors by two games. It’s worth noting that if the season ended today, Irving still wouldn’t be able to play at Toronto (for the play-in tournament) due to the vaccine requirements to enter Canada.

Here are a few more notes on the Nets:

  • Seth Curry (left ankle sprain) and Goran Dragic (left knee soreness) are out for Wednesday’s game at Memphis, but coach Steve Nash is hopeful both guards will be able to play Saturday at Miami (Twitter link via Nick Friedell of ESPN).
  • Unsurprisingly, Nash says he “would welcome” Irving being able to play home games soon, tweets Friedell. Brooklyn’s next home game is Sunday, March 27, against Charlotte.
  • Nash also said he’d be comfortable using Ben Simmons in a playoff game for his potential season debut, although that may be in a limited role off the bench, Friedell relays (via Twitter). Simmons still isn’t doing any basketball-related activities as he deals with a herniated disc in his back.