Zoran Dragic

International Notes: Slovenia, Doncic, Croatia, South Sudan, Siulepa

The Slovenian national team has officially announced the 16 players who will make up its preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Greece next month (Twitter link). While the 16-man group features currently Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar and a couple other players with prior NBA experience (Zoran Dragic and Mike Tobey), the headliner is Mavericks guard Luka Doncic.

Slovenia obviously hopes that Doncic will be available to help the team try to claim one of the final four Olympic berths this summer, and the Mavs star said on Wednesday that he wants to do so, despite battling knee issues this spring, as Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press tweets. Doncic still has one more series to get through, so his availability in Greece will presumably hinge on how he’s feeling at the conclusion of the NBA Finals.

Here’s more from around the international basketball world:

  • Croatia, which will be in Slovenia’s group at the qualifying tournament in Greece, has also announced a preliminary roster for that event. Warriors forward Dario Saric and Clippers center Ivica Zubac are among the 17 players who are candidates to make up the 12-man roster, while former NBA wing Mario Hezonja is one of the other notable names in that group.
  • South Sudan, which has already qualified for the Olympics based on its results at last year’s World Cup, revealed a 25-man preliminary roster for Paris (Twitter link). Some of the biggest names in the mix for roster spots include Bol Bol, Wenyen Gabriel, Thon Maker, JT Thor, and World Cup star Carlik Jones.
  • Seventeen-year-old Australian prospect Roman Siulepa is signing with the Tasmania JackJumpers as part of the National Basketball League’s Next Stars program, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Givony identifies Siulepa as one of the most promising international prospects in his age group, noting that the 6’7″ small forward has averaged 21.0 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the second division of Australia’s NBL this season.

International Notes: Caboclo, Brown, Nunn, Pre-Draft Camp

Bruno Caboclo‘s future with KK Partizan could be in jeopardy after he recently left the team without permission to travel to Orlando, according to BasketNews.

The Serbian club announced sanctions on Caboclo for “setting a precedent” for his teammates, although the details weren’t released. Partizan will start a best-of-three playoff series with Crvena Zvezda on Monday.

The team said Caboclo “allegedly” traveled to Florida as part of his duties with the Brazilian national team, but a report from Mozzart Sport states that he was attending a child custody hearing. Caboclo reportedly asked for permission to attend the hearing nearly two weeks ago, but the request was denied because it conflicted with preparing for the playoffs.

The announcement from Partizan notes that the team has an option to keep Caboclo under contract, but no decision has been made. The 28-year-old forward has been playing overseas since his last NBA appearance during the 2020/21 season.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Former NBA point guard Lorenzo Brown has no intention of leaving Maccabi Tel Aviv, BasketNews adds in a separate story. Brown holds a Spanish passport that enables him to play for Spain’s national team, and there were rumors that he might consider signing with Real Madrid. “I have no idea what is happening and where these rumors come from. I read a lot, like all of you, but I fully intend to stay at Maccabi. I’m very comfortable here,” he said. “I think this is the best place I’ve ever played. I’m looking forward to the next season to start a new journey together with my teammates.”
  • Kendrick Nunn led Panathinaikos to the EuroLeague title, but he may not have joined the Greek team without an assist from NBA veteran Goran Dragic, Eurohoops relays. In an interview with Meridian Sport, Panathinaikos sporting director Sani Becirovic talked about the role Dragic played in recruiting Nunn. “Goran Dragic helped me a lot there. At the time, Kendrick was training with Zoran Dragic in Miami, so Goran allowed me to explain everything to him,” Becirovic said. “… It still wasn’t easy getting an important NBA player to leave Disneyland. That was the hardest.”
  • A few NBA players and a collection of assistant coaches are attending a pre-draft camp for international prospects in Treviso this weekend, according to Eurohoops. James Harden, Nikola Jovic, Vasilije Micic and Ivica Zubac made an appearance and signed autographs at adidas EuroCamp.

And-Ones: Diop, Baynes, Onuaku, Free Agency, Macon, Dragic

Cavaliers draft-and-stash pick Khalifa Diop has extended his contract with Gran Canaria through 2025, according to Eurohoops.net. The Senegalese center’s previous deal with the club was set to expire in 2024. Diop. 20, was selected with the 39th overall pick with the goal of stashing him at least for next season. Presumably, Diop will have NBA opt-outs in his European contract for when Cleveland is ready to bring him aboard.

We have more news from around the basketball world:

  • Free agent center Aron Baynes worked out for NBA teams in Las Vegas on Friday and received generally positive reviews, Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com reports. Baynes is seeking an NBA comeback after suffering a serious spinal cord injury during the Tokyo Olympics. One scout told Bulpett that Baynes showed good stamina and a consistent 3-point stroke. Another executive said that Baynes could be a good fit for the Celtics.
  • Israeli League MVP Chinanu Onuaku will work out for NBA teams on Wednesday at the Las Vegas Summer League, Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.net reports. The Raptors, Clippers, Celtics, Cavaliers, Mavericks and Lakers are among the teams expected to be in attendance. Additionally, Greece’s Panathinaikos is expected to soon present an official offer for a two-year contract. The 6’11” big man played six games with the Rockets from 2016-18.
  • Donte DiVincenzo‘s two-year contract with the Warriors and Bruce Brown‘s two-year deal with the Nuggets are the best value signings during free agency thus far, in the view of executives who spoke to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com.
  • Former NBA guard Daryl Macon has signed with Unics, according to Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. Macon averaged 13.1 PPG and 3.6 APG last season in EuroLeague with Panathinaikos. Macon played four games with the Heat during the 2019/20 season.
  • Former NBA guard Zoran Dragic has re-signed with Cedevita Olimpija Ljubljana for another season, according to Sportando. Dragic averaged 10.7 PPG and 5.5 RPG last season in EuroCup action.

Southeast Notes: Ferry, Budenholzer, Dragic

Mike Budenholzer and former Hawks GM Danny Ferry are close, but Budenholzer encouraged Ferry to resign in September 2014 so that the Hawks could more easily put their racism scandal behind them before the opening of training camp last season, report Kevin Arnovitz and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. Their piece goes deep into the downfall of Ferry, who instead went on a leave of absence that extended until he took a buyout this past summer, and the team’s previous ownership group, one that had lost money each year since it purchased the franchise in 2004, Arnovitz and Windhorst reveal. Former controlling owner Bruce Levenson had nonetheless structured a long-term deal for Ferry when he hired the executive, one that other GMs called the “Golden Ticket” for its favorability to the former Spurs and Cavs executive, Arnovitz and Windhorst write. Prominent co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. opposed that deal and never saw eye-to-eye with Ferry, who upset him on several occasions, such as when Ferry had harsh words for former coach Larry Drew, according to Arnovitz and Windhorst.

See more on the Hawks amid the latest from the Southeast Division:

  • Gearon didn’t initially take issue with the tenor of Levenson’s racially charged 2012 email — the one that ultimately led to his decision to sell the team, as Arnovitz and Windhorst detail in the same piece. Gearon instead put pressure on Levenson when the email again came up amid an internal investigation that Ferry’s racial comments touched off, and when a reporter was coming close to breaking the story of the scandal, Levenson decided to take a proactive step and announce his intention to sell, the ESPN scribes recount. Levenson remained a fan of Ferry and nearly brought him back before the sale took place, but the team’s renaissance worked against that, as Levenson decided too much was going right to risk disruption.
  • Goran Dragic is wistful about no longer playing with his brother, but he re-signed with the Heat without assurances they would keep Zoran Dragic and was on board when the team traded him, as he explains to Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post“I was sad, of course,” Goran said of the trade. “I know how much he wants to be part of a team in the NBA, but I understand this is a business. That’s a better situation for him right now. He’s gonna get playing time. He signed a good deal in Russia. He’s happy. That’s a good thing. Sometimes, for me, when you play with your brother, sometimes it’s a little bit stressful because if he’s not getting playing time, it affects you too. But everything’s good now.”
  • Jaleel Roberts didn’t think he would end up in training camp with the Wizards after he failed to wow them with his summer league performance, but he’s grateful for the opportunity after an overseas offer didn’t pan out as he expected it to, writes J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Andersen, Chalmers, Wade

Some of the teams with interest in Goran Dragic retreated from the idea of trading for him at the deadline because they felt the Heat had him essentially wrapped up for a long-term deal, sources from across the league tell Grantland’s Zach Lowe. Still, no one registered a tampering complaint, and a Heat spokesperson said to Lowe that there was no prearranged deal for when he hit free agency in the summer. The Lakers seemed to hang around as a threat, but the Heat appeared to have the inside track to re-sign Dragic right from the time he got to Miami. The All-Star combo guard indeed re-signed on a five-year deal worth slightly more than $85MM last month.

The Heat’s latest move became public this morning, with Miami reportedly having agreed to a camp deal with former Georgetown small forward Greg Whittington. See more from South Beach here:

Latest On Potential Heat Trades, Mario Chalmers

The Heat expect to keep Mario Chalmers until at least the start of training camp, and owner Micky Arison has made no demand that the team shed salary, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The prospect of trading for Jamal Crawford, an idea the Heat reportedly raised in talks with the Clippers nearly two months ago, “can’t be ruled out,” but Miami is satisfied with its depth on the perimeter, Jackson writes. The Heat are still willing to trade Chris Andersen, but the market for him has been soft, Jackson hears from a higher-up who’s been in contact with the Heat, and no evidence suggests the Clippers are interested in him as part of a swap involving Crawford, Jackson adds.

The Heat would still prefer to offload salary and haven’t ruled out trading Chalmers, set to make a guaranteed $4.3MM in the final season of his contract this year, as soon as October, according to Jackson. The point guard hasn’t given indications that he’s expecting to be traded, and team president Pat Riley denied reports around draft time indicating that the team was shopping Chalmers and Andersen. Grantland’s Zach Lowe nonetheless heard a couple of weeks later that Chalmers and Andersen were available “for nothing.” Andersen didn’t seem concerned about the rumors when he made a public appearance earlier this week, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel chronicles.

An opposing GM told Jackson in mid-July that Chalmers and Shabazz Napier were the players the Heat were shopping the most aggressively, and Miami dealt Napier to the Magic later that month for no salary in return. That, plus the swap that sent Zoran Dragic to the Celtics with no other salary involved, helped Miami lower its payroll, though the Heat still have about $90.4MM in guaranteed salary, which puts them about $5.66MM above the $84.74MM luxury tax threshold. The Heat would have to pay repeat-offender tax penalties if they’re still above the tax line on the final day of the regular season. Miami only has 12 players on fully guaranteed deals, and if they keep Hassan Whiteside on his partially guaranteed contract but get rid of everyone else, they’d have a tax bill of roughly $16.3MM. Jackson estimates the tax bill at around $23MM, though that appears to include some of the non-guaranteed contracts.

Do you think the Heat will move below the luxury tax line this season? If so, how do you think they’ll manage to do it? Leave a comment to tell us.

International Moves: Dragic, Oden, Kirk

NBA free agent deals are still getting done, as today’s agreements between the Wolves and Tayshaun Prince and the Mavs and JaVale McGee show, but plenty of action is going on overseas, where players are latching on as NBA roster spots grow scarce. Here’s the latest on familiar figures hitting the international market:

  • Zoran Dragic‘s contract with Khimki of Russia will pay him 1 million euros this coming season and 1.1 million euros next year, reports overseas journalist David Pick (Twitter link). That means he’ll make the equivalent of about $1.114MM this year, so the Celtics, who waived him this week, will be eligible for about $269K via set off rights.
  • Greg Oden will make $1.2MM after taxes on his new deal with Jiangsu of China, the Altius Culture agency says (Twitter link), citing a Sports Weekly report. However, Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia indicates that the oft-injured former No. 1 overall pick still must go through a weeklong workout at the end of the month for the deal to take effect (Twitter link).
  • Former Cavaliers big man Alex Kirk will join Italy’s Giorgio Tesi Pistoia, the Sports ProMotion agency tweets. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reported earlier this week that Kirk, who spent the first part of last season with the Cavs, was expected to sign with a team from Italy, though it wasn’t clear which club he’d end up with.

Zoran Dragic To Play In Russia

Zoran Dragic has signed a two-year deal with Khimki of Russia, the team announced (Twitter link; translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). Dragic cleared waivers from the Celtics on Wednesday following his Monday release. It’s no surprise to see the native of Slovenia return to overseas ball, as his camp pushed the Celtics to let go of him when they did so that he could sign with a European team that would give him minutes, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported this week. The Celtics reportedly intended to unload him somehow, though it appeared as though they were waiting to see if another NBA team would take him in a trade.

The Celtics stand to benefit to some degree if Dragic’s deal calls for a salary of more than the NBA one-year veteran’s minimum of $845,059, since that would allow them to invoke set-off rights to defray the $1.5MM they owe him. In any case, it’s a quick end to Dragic’s NBA excursion, one in which he saw just 4.7 minutes per game in 16 total appearances split between the Suns, who originally signed him a year ago, and the Heat, to whom Phoenix traded him along with his brother, Goran Dragic. Miami flipped him to Boston in a salary-clearing move last month.

Zoran nonetheless faces competition for playing time with Khimki, which bestowed a deal upon fellow former NBA guard Alexey Shved that reportedly makes him the highest-paid player in Europe. The team also has Mavs draft rights held player Petteri Koponen in the backcourt, as Carchia points out.

Who do you think stands a better chance of playing in the NBA again, Dragic or Shved? Leave a comment to tell us.

Eastern Notes: Thompson, Dragic, Pistons

Agent Rich Paul may represent both LeBron James and Tristan Thompson, but the influence Thompson’s negotiations have on LeBron’s decision-making is overstated, opines Hoops Rumors contributor Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net, who believes Thompson shouldn’t overplay his hand.

In other news around the Eastern Conference:

  • Zoran Dragic‘s representatives wanted to secure his release from the Celtics so that he could return to Europe and play regularly, sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein (Twitter link). The Celtics announced on Monday that they had waived Dragic, whom they acquired in last month’s trade with Miami.
  • The Cavaliers are the Eastern Conference’s top team in terms of roster construction but there are several surprises in the Top 5, according to an analysis by ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle in an Insider-only piece. The Pacers rank second in tier score, which is based on a team’s anticipated 10-man rotation. The Raptors, Pistons and Hawks round out the Top 5 while the Nets, a playoff team last season, are near the bottom at No. 13.
  • The Pistons could go with a wing trio of Marcus Morris, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Stanley Johnson against certain opponents, which would mean reduced playing time for Jodie Meeks, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com reports. The production from that trio will have a major influence on the team’s goal to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2008/09 season, Langlois adds.

Celtics Waive Zoran Dragic

The Celtics have waived Zoran Dragic, the team announced. The team had reportedly been likely to release him ever since Boston picked him up in last month’s trade with Miami, though it appeared as though the team was holding out to see if it could find a trade partner. The Celtics had held signed contracts or verbal agreements with 21 players, but before they could officially sign all of the players they’ve invited to camp, they had to unload someone to comply with the 20-man offseason roster limit.

The main attraction of the trade in which Boston received Dragic is Miami’s unprotected 2020 second-round pick. The Celtics also net $100K in cash, since they received from Miami $1.6MM and are on the hook for $1.5MM to Dragic unless another team claims him off waivers, notes Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (All Twitter links). Dragic’s cap figure is slightly more than $1.706MM, but that reflects a signing bonus that the Suns gave him when he signed last year that the Celtics aren’t responsible for, Pincus points out.

Dragic, 26, averaged only 1.8 points in 4.7 minutes per game across 16 appearances this past season, his first since coming over from Europe to join his brother, Goran, on the Suns. The Suns sent the Dragic brothers in tandem to the Heat at the trade deadline. Miami committed a five-year contract to Goran this summer, and he was reportedly OK with the deal that sent his brother to Boston. The Heat can’t re-sign Zoran until next July.

Today’s move still leaves the Celtics with a tough call to make, since they have 16 fully guaranteed contracts, as our roster counts show. They’ve also signed Corey Walden and Malcolm Miller to camp deals and will reportedly bring Levi Randolph and Coty Clarke to camp as well.

Do you think Zoran Dragic will end up on another NBA team someday? Leave a comment to let us know.