Goran Dragic

Mavs Notes: Wood, McGee, THJ, Ntilikina, Green, Dinwiddie, More

Christian Wood, the biggest addition of the Mavericks‘ offseason, is expected to primarily play a sixth man role in Dallas, head coach Jason Kidd told reporters today (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

This is my first time hearing about it,” Wood said during his own media session (Twitter link via MacMahon). However, he said that his focus with his new team will be on winning and he’s not overly concerned about whether he starts or comes off the bench.

While it may come as a bit of a surprise that Dallas wants Wood to come off the bench, MacMahon notes (via Twitter) that – as he reported at the time – the Mavs told JaVale McGee when they recruited him in free agency that they envisioned him as their starting center. It seems that plan remains on course.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • During his Monday media session, Tim Hardaway Jr. pronounced himself “100%” healthy after missing most of last season due to foot surgery, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays (video link via Twitter). Kidd confirmed that Hardaway has been back in Dallas playing pick-up games for the last week and said the forward is “ready to go,” tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Frank Ntilikina and Josh Green are candidates to be Dallas’ third ball-handler behind Luka Doncic and Spencer Dinwiddie, Kidd said today (Twitter link via Landon Thomas). Speaking of Dinwiddie, he’s feeling good as he enters his first full season as a Maverick and concludes his first full healthy offseason following his ACL injury. “It’s night and day,” Dinwiddie said of his ACL now compared to last year (Twitter link via Caplan). “Not even close.”
  • New Bulls guard Goran Dragic confirmed today that he talked with the Mavericks as a free agent this summer, but said he was “never close” to a deal with Dallas (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic).
  • Dorian Finney-Smith joked today that he would’ve been upset if Jalen Brunson had remained in Dallas instead of accepting the Knicks’ four-year, $104MM offer. “Man, you see how much money they gave him?” Finney-Smith said (Twitter link via Caplan). “I would’ve been mad if he stayed here.”

Bulls Notes: Point Guard, Dragic, LaVine, Front Office

With Lonzo Ball undergoing another procedure on his knee and preparing to be sidelined for the start of the 2022/23 season, the Bulls will have to come up with a plan for how to replace his production at point guard, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic, who examines the top candidates to take Ball’s spot in the starting lineup.

As Mayberry outlines, Alex Caruso probably makes the most sense as Ball’s short-term replacement, given his experience, leadership, and defensive abilities. While Caruso isn’t a big-time offensive player, that wouldn’t be a problem if he’s playing alongside Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic.

Still, like Ball, Caruso has an injury history and shouldn’t be leaned on too heavily, since having both players on the shelf would seriously limit the effectiveness of Chicago’s backcourt, Mayberry writes. Ayo Dosunmu, Goran Dragic, and Coby White are the other candidates to take Ball’s place in the starting five.

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • In another story for The Athletic, Mayberry poses 10 questions that will shape the Bulls’ season, including whether LaVine can realistically take his game to another level after signing a five-year, maximum-salary contract.
  • While Dragic and Andre Drummond were solid veteran signings, it remains to be seen whether they’ll help specifically address the Bulls’ shooting and rim protection, two needs management publicly acknowledged entering the offseason, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • The honeymoon period is just about over for the Bulls’ front office led by Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley as they enter their third season in Chicago, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. According to Cowley, Karnisovas has proven he’s an “organizational-changer,” but the Bulls will have to continue moving toward title contention rather than peaking as a middle-of-the-pack playoff team.
  • The Bulls have a new jersey sponsor, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago, who writes that a Motorola Mobility patch will replace the Zenni Optical logo on the team’s jerseys starting this season.

Eastern Notes: Giannis, Dragic, LaVine, Celtics

Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo did some weight training and is expected to practice on Sunday with Greece, according to EuroHoops. Antetokounmpo recently suffered a minor ankle sprain, but he seems to be proceeding without any issues.

“We decided to do just an optional training session,” Greek national team assistant coach Sotiris Manolopoulos said. “We left it up to the players to come and make some shots. Giannis did his own training at the hotel and tomorrow will practice without any issues. He is healthy.”

Antetokounmpo sustained the injury on Thursday. With the NBA season around the corner, this is good news for Bucks fans, as they’re hoping to see Milwaukee start the season without any interruptions and win a second championship in three years.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference today:

  • Bulls guard Goran Dragic recently came to the defense of Antetokoummpo in light of Gilbert Arenas‘ negative comments, EuroHoops relays. “Giannis is the MVP. Gilbert Arenas is not,” Dragic said as part of a larger quote. “Was he ever the MVP? I don’t think so. So he can’t talk about Giannis. Giannis won the championship, won the MVP award. He has been the defensive player of the year.” Arenas previously stated that Antetokounmpo “doesn’t understand basketball yet” and downplayed the Bucks star’s 2021 championship.
  • Zach LaVine‘s lucrative new contract will created added pressure on the Bulls star this season, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. LaVine signed a five-year, $215MM deal with the team in July, cementing his future in Chicago. He averaged 24.4 points per game last season, shooting 48% from the floor and 39% from three-point range. The Bulls will be looking to contend once again this season.
  • Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com examines a number of Celtics topics in his latest mailbag. Among the subjects Bulpett discusses is whether Payton Pritchard should play more. With Boston adding Malcolm Brogdon this offseason, Pritchard’s role is arguably more unclear, but he remains an effective option off the bench.

International Notes: EuroBasket, Dragic, Bjelica, Satoransky, Prigioni

Europe’s largest basketball tournament will tip off Thursday morning for the first time in five years. EuroBasket 2022 will feature more than 30 NBA players, including stars such as Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and Rudy Gobert.

Twenty-four teams are involved, with four nations hosting preliminary games, leading up to the gold medal contest Sept. 18 in Berlin, Germany. The tournament used to be held every two years, but it was switched to four-year intervals beginning in 2017. It was delayed an extra year because the Olympics had to be pushed back from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19.

Slovenia is the defending champion, with Goran Dragic earning MVP honors in 2017. He didn’t play internationally last year, but has returned to help defend the title, according to Eurohoops.

“A challenging tournament is ahead of us, which we are all looking forward to,” Dragic said. “The championship will be one of the most even ever, as most of the national teams have their strongest possible rosters. As professional athletes, we naturally prefer to play against the best. This gives us additional momentum and presents us with a great challenge. We trained well, the team is ready and we can’t wait for the opening match against Lithuania.”

A full schedule for the event, including the opening matchup between Bulgaria and Spain, is available at ESPN.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Nemanja Bjelica, who played for the Warriors last season, was left off Serbia’s EuroBasket roster because of an injured calf, per Eurohoops. Bjelica missed last week’s FIBA World Cup Qualifiers with the same injury, which he suffered in mid-August. Serbia, led by Jokic, is considered one of the top teams in the tournament even without Bjelica.
  • A final decision on Tomas Satoransky‘s availability for the Czech team won’t be announced until Thursday, sources tell Eurohoops. A health official from the Wizards, whom Satoransky ended last season with, was in Prague to help with his recovery from ligament damage to his right ankle.
  • Timberwolves assistant and former NBA guard Pablo Prigioni has been named head coach of Argentina’s national team, Eurohoops relays. “My feeling for the National Team is big, as is my commitment to this group,” Prigioni stated in a press release. “The Argentina shirt is the most important thing. We are focused, staff and players, on giving our best in the tournament that lies ahead.” His first challenge will be the AmeriCup tournament, which begins Friday in Brazil.

More Than 30 NBA Players On Track To Suit Up For EuroBasket

The first EuroBasket tournament in five years will tip off in two weeks and there are currently 34 NBA players on track to participate in the event, representing 17 different countries, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops.net.

EuroBasket is a 24-team international basketball competition also known as the European Basketball Championship. It historically took place every two years, but that gap was recently adjusted to four years, emulating the FIBA World Cup schedule.

The last EuroBasket tournament was played in 2017 — the next one had been scheduled for 2021, but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics. As a result, after being played every two years since 1947, it has now been five years since the last EuroBasket tournament, easily the longest layoff since World War II.

It’s possible that some NBA players will be cut from their teams’ rosters or will have to drop out due to injuries or personal reasons before the event begins on September 1, but in general enthusiasm to participate in the long-awaited event appears high.

Here’s the list of NBAers currently set to play in EuroBasket, per Eurohoops:

There are also multiple NBA free agents on EuroBasket rosters, including French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot and German guard Dennis Schröder.

A number of young NBA players, such as 2022 draftees Jeremy Sochan and Nikola Jovic, have dropped out to focus on getting ready for the 2022/23 season, while others, including Bogdan Bogdanovic (Serbia) and Frank Ntilikina (France), were ruled out due to injuries.

Round robin play will begin on September 1, with each team facing the other five clubs in its group once. The top four teams in each group will advance to a 16-team bracket that begins on September 10. The final will take place on September 18, just over a week before NBA training camps get underway.

And-Ones: Martin, Thabeet, Dragic, Season Prognoses

Free agent point guard Jeremiah Martin has signed on with Polish club WKS Slask Wroclaw, the team announced in a press release.

After going undrafted out of Memphis in 2019, Martin played for the Heat’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He later joined the Nets and Cavaliers on two-way contracts. Across 18 NBA games, the 26-year-old averaged 4.8 PPG, 1.2 APG and 0.7 SPG for Brooklyn and Cleveland.

The 6’2″ guard last suited up for the New Zealand Breakers during the 2021/22 season. In 10 contests with the Breakers, Martin averaged 12.3 PPG on 39.5% shooting, plus 3.6 APG, 2.7 RPG and 1.1 SPG.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran free agent center Hasheem Thabeet is expected to play with a team in the Chinese Basketball Association this season, Thabeet’s agent Jerry Dianis informed Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Scotto writes that the big man is fielding interest from several Chinese clubs, including the Fujian Xunxing Sturgeons and the Jilin Northeast Tigers. The 7’3″ center, 35, was selected with the No. 2 pick out of Connecticut in 2009. In five NBA seasons, the big man averaged 2.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 0.8 BPG across 224 contests. Thabeet has since logged time with the Grand Rapids Drive and Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA G League. He has also played overseas for teams in Japan and Taiwan.
  • Bulls point guard Goran Dragic spoke with Semih Tuna of Eurohoops about his return to EuroBasket competition this summer for the first time in five years. “Returning to the national team after five years is an incredible feeling,” Dragic said. “Of course, I’m older now, I’m 36 years old. I was fresher back then, but I still enjoy playing basketball. That’s why I’m happy to be back.”
  • A panel of ESPN writers is making some predictions for the league ahead of the start of the 2022/23 NBA season. The group votes on landing spots for Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell this season, which teams are most likely to enjoy bounce-back seasons, which teams are most likely to fall into total chaos, and more.

International Notes: Gallinari, Dragic, Teodosic, Russia

Danilo Gallinari is looking forward to the next phase of his NBA career with the Celtics, but his immediate priority is the Italian national team. In an interview with Italy’s Sky Sport, Gallinari talks about the challenges that lie ahead in both the next round of EuroBasket and the 2023 World Cup qualifiers (translation by Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops).

“There are many very strong teams carrying multiple NBA players,” Gallinari said of Italy’s EuroBasket competitors. “We will have to be amazing and maybe exceed expectations. But a team like ours has been successful in the past and we can be again.”

Once his international commitment is done, Gallinari will return to the U.S. to start training camp with the Celtics. He signed a two-year, $13.3MM contract with Boston after reaching a buyout agreement with the Spurs last month, believing the Celtics offer his best chance to win an NBA title.

“The goal is the ring with Boston,” Gallinari said. “Despite being in the NBA for 14 years, I feel excited for the next chapter in my career. As long as I can feel the excitement, I don’t want to stop. At the Celtics, there are definitely many responsibilities and expectations. I have already talked with many of my new teammates and members of the coaching staff. They can’t wait to get back in action, there is great enthusiasm. Some are already there. Myself, I am focused on Italy, and after I will focus on the Celtics.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Goran Dragic is ready for a different role with Slovenia than he had when his country won the EuroBasket gold medal five years ago, according to a Eurohoops report. Dragic was the team leader in 2017, but now that role belongs to Luka Doncic. “I was Batman, but now I’ll be Robin,” Dragic said. “The most important thing will be to make sure we have good chemistry and be a leader on the court and lift guys up when it’s most difficult.”
  • European star and former NBA player Milos Teodosic has been cut from the Serbian national team heading into EuroBasket, per Askounis, relaying a report from Mozzart Sport. The 35-year-old guard, who spent two seasons with the Clippers, is one of the top players in Serbian history and served as team captain during the 2016 Olympics.
  • In a separate story, Askounis reviews the players who have left their teams in Russia since the nation was disqualified from EuroLeague play in the wake of the Ukrainian invasion. The list includes some familiar NBA names such as Kevin Pangos, Will Clyburn, Joel Bolomboy, Alex PoythressLorenzo Brown, Jordan Mickey and Mario Hezonja.

And-Ones: Crawford, Micic, Dragic

Retired shooting guard Jamal Crawford reflected on his 20-year NBA run in a conversation with Bryan Kalbrosky of USA Today. Earlier this summer, the 6’5″ vet, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year, showed off his still-lethal handle at his yearly Seattle-based Pro-Am league the CrawsOver.

“I would always stretch and ice even if nothing was hurting,” Crawford, now 42, said of one of the keys to his longevity in the league. “I heard an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of recovery. I was always taking care of myself… I was always trying to think about the long game so I could play at a high level for a long time… I would’ve played even longer if I knew the stuff I know now.”

Across 1,327 career games played with the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Timberwolves, Suns and Nets, Crawford averaged 14.6 PPG, 3.4 APG and 2.2 RPG, while posting shooting splits of .410/.348/.862.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball globe:

  • After flirting with a move to the NBA this summer, star EuroLeague guard Vasilije Micic opted to remain with Anadolu Efes in Turkey. The Thunder continue to possess the draft rights to the two-time reigning EuroLeague Final Four MVP, who spoke to Rada Nikolić August of Sport Klub about his offseason decision . “I felt a slight mistrust from the direction of the strongest league in the world, which they have towards many, not only me,” Micic said, though he seemed open to keeping the door open to an eventual move stateside. “I really don’t think I’m going there to prove what and how much I can do. It’s nice like this for me, so if I go to America one day, it will happen…” Last year, the 28-year-old averaged 18.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.1 SPG across 28 contests with Anadolu Efes in EuroLeague play.
  • New Bulls reserve point guard Goran Dragic is set to return to competition for his native Slovenia in EuroBasket 2022 this September, as he announced via Twitter. “I’M BACK,” the 36-year-old posted, along with a variety of descriptive emojis. Dragic had previously retired from playing for Slovenia in 2017, after helping the national club win its first-ever FIBA European championship in EuroBasket play. Dragic won the EuroBasket MVP award for his efforts, averaging 22.6 PPG in nine games. Dragic joined Chicago this summer following turns with the Raptors and Nets in 2021/22.

Contract Details: Dellavedova, McGruder, Knox

Matthew Dellavedova‘s new one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Kings, originally reported as partially guaranteed, is actually non-guaranteed for the time being, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Dellavedova will receive a partial guarantee of $250K if he’s not waived before Sacramento’s first game of the regular season, then would lock in his full $2.63MM guarantee if he remains under contract through the NBA’s league-wide guarantee deadline of January 7.

Here are a few more details on recently signed NBA contracts:

  • Rodney McGruder‘s one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Pistons is fully guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned. That gives Detroit 17 players on guaranteed contracts, though one of those players (Kemba Walker) is very likely to be bought out. The Pistons would still have to trade or release one more player with a guaranteed salary in order to get to the 15-man regular season limit.
  • Kevin Knox‘s two-year, $6MM contract with the Pistons is worth a flat $3MM in each of the two seasons. While the first year is guaranteed, the deal includes a team option for the 2023/24 season.
  • As expected, Goran Dragic‘s one-year, minimum-salary contract with the Bulls and JaMychal Green‘s with the Warriors are both fully guaranteed.

Bulls Sign Goran Dragic

AUGUST 2: Nearly a month after first reaching an agreement with Dragic, the Bulls have officially signed him, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 3: The Bulls are fortifying their backcourt bench depth with a new veteran addition. Chicago will sign former All-NBA point guard Goran Dragic to a one-year contract, per Jordan Schultz of the Pull Up Podcast (Twitter link).

Dragic, most recently with the Nets, will earn $2.9MM, the veteran’s minimum, next season, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dragic, who has an All-Star season and an All-NBA season on his résumé, played a crucial role during the Heat’s NBA Finals run within the Orlando “bubble” campus in 2020. The Slovenian guard’s production fell to earth the next season amid injury troubles, and he was ultimately dealt to the Raptors in the sign-and-trade agreement that landed Kyle Lowry with the Heat in the 2021 offseason.

Last year, Dragic appeared in just five games with Toronto before reaching an agreement to leave the club as it sought out a suitable trade. The 36-year-old was shipped to the Spurs and negotiated a buyout with San Antonio, then latched on with the Nets as a free agent.

Across 16 games with Brooklyn, including six starts, Dragic averaged 7.3 PPG, 4.8 APG and 3.2 RPG, while posting .376/.245/.739 shooting splits. Though his assist and rebounding numbers were in line with his career averages of 4.8 APG and 3.1 RPG, his scoring efficiency across 25.5 MPG for Brooklyn was a far cry from his 14-year career average of 13.7 PPG on .460/.362/.767 shooting.

The addition of Dragic marks Chicago’s fourth free agent agreement this offseason. The team agreed to re-sign All-Star shooting guard Zach LaVine to a maximum deal, is bringing back deep-bench reserve forward Derrick Jones Jr., and will add journeyman reserve center Andre Drummond to boost its rebounding.

As Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype observes (via Twitter), thanks to Dragic’s minimum-salary deal, the Bulls are now approximately $1.7MM below the luxury tax this season, carrying a projected 15 players on guaranteed contracts. Gozlan adds that Chicago has around $7MM left to use from its non-taxpayer mid-level exception.

Any further Bulls roster changes seem more likely to come via trade than free agency. Opening up a roster spot now to add another free agent would require trading or waiving a current Bull with a guaranteed salary. The team also has a $5MM trade exception that will expire after July 7.

If the Bulls do make a deal, it could involve their backcourt depth. The team adds to a group of guards that already includes Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, and Coby White, though Ball’s health heading into next season remains a question mark.

K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reports that the team anticipates this current roster will be intact for training camp in the fall, though he acknowledges that the team does appear to have a surplus of guards.