Zoran Dragic

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.

Heat Rumors: Trades, Dragic, Richardson

The Heat have been busy today, formally announcing trades that sent Shabazz Napier to the Magic and Zoran Dragic to the Celtics. They reportedly remain in pursuit of a deal that would take Mario Chalmers and his $4.3MM off their hands as they seek to avoid paying repeat-offender tax penalties. Here’s the latest from South Beach:

  • The amount of cash going from the Heat to the Celtics in the Dragic trade is $1.5MM, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe. The Suns had paid the rest of his more than $1.706MM salary as a signing bonus last year. Miami will have $1.9MM left to spend in trades, while the Celtics, who took in cash as part of the Perry Jones III trade, too, only have $400K left that they can receive, notes former Nets executive Bobby Marks (Twitter links).
  • The 2019 second-round pick that the Celtics owe the Heat as part of the Dragic deal is top-55 protected, so Miami is unlikely to ever actually receive the selection, Himmelsbach reports in the same piece.
  • The Heat let No. 40 pick Josh Richardson know last week that they think he’s an NBA-caliber player and that they were doing what they could to find room on the roster for him, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (All Twitter links). The Dragic and Napier trades give the team 15 players, Jackson notes, speculating that Miami will release Henry Walker before his non-guaranteed salary becomes partially guaranteed for $100K on Saturday, a move that would open a spot for Richardson. Still, the roster remains fluid, so Jackson wouldn’t dismiss the idea that Walker will still be with Miami.

Celtics To Waive Zoran Dragic?

12:21pm: A source who spoke with Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the Celtics will try to flip Dragic in another trade rather than waive him (Twitter link). Either way, he won’t be playing for Boston. The Celtics can’t aggregate Dragic’s salary with others in a swap for two months, though they can work a trade that sends him out by himself.

11:17am: The Celtics intend to release the newly acquired Zoran Dragic, a league source tells Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That means the Celtics are prepared to eat Dragic’s salary of more than $1.706MM, assuming he goes unclaimed off waivers. The Heat sent along enough cash in the trade that sent Dragic to Boston to cover his salary, however. Phoenix, which originally signed Dragic, advanced $200K of Dragic’s salary, notes former Nets executive Bobby Marks (on Twitter), so the cash from Miami will take care of the rest.

Dragic, the brother of Goran Dragic, saw action in just 16 games split between the Suns and Heat last season. Zoran came with his brother in the trade that sent them to Miami at the February deadline, but Goran was apparently on board with today’s move that sent his brother to Boston. The Heat are ineligible to re-sign Zoran until next July because of the trade. This season was to have been the last on Goran’s two-year contract, and the Heat can’t sign him until its scheduled expiration.

The Celtics had little room for the extra player, as they had already been in line to carry 16 guaranteed contracts before today’s trade. Boston will instead pocket the 2020 second-round pick it acquired in the transaction, adding it to its robust stockpile of future draft assets. It’s the eighth extra second-rounder the Celtics have coming their way.

Do you think Zoran Dragic will latch on with another NBA team this season? Leave a comment to let us know.

Celtics Acquire Zoran Dragic From Heat

11:13am: The trade is official, the Celtics and Heat announced. The second-rounder going to Miami is a protected 2019 selection, according to the Heat.

11:07am: The Heat are sending enough cash in the deal to cover Dragic’s salary, reports Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).

10:49am: The second-rounder going to Boston is for 2020, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter link).

10:11am: The Celtics are acquiring Zoran Dragic from the Heat, reports Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald and ESPN (Twitter link). He’s the brother of Goran Dragic, who’s OK with the deal, Le Batard adds. The Heat are also sending out a second-rounder, with another heavily protected second-rounder heading from Boston to Miami, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It looks like the Heat aren’t taking salary back in the deal, so they’ll be able to reap luxury tax savings on top of the more than $1.706MM owed to Dragic for this coming season.

Miami has been carrying about $90.9MM in guaranteed salary, above the league’s $84.74MM tax threshold. The Dragic deal won’t take the team under that figure, and the Heat continue to look for takers for Mario Chalmers and his $4.3MM salary, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com hears (Twitter link). Miami would be subject to repeat-offender tax penalties if it’s above the tax threshold at the end of the regular season.

The Celtics use cap space to take in Dragic. Boston is set to complete the David Lee trade later today, but as that move has lingered as unofficial, the C’s have been able to operate as a team with cap space, making moves like the Perry Jones III trade and signing Jordan Mickey for more than two years. Boston had already been in line to carry 16 fully guaranteed contracts for the season ahead, so it would seem Dragic’s place on the opening night roster for the Celtics is not assured.

Miami also whittled its tax bill down with Sunday’s agreement to trade Shabazz Napier to the Magic. The Napier and Dragic deals stand to save the Heat around $11MM in salary and tax penalties combined, depending on other transactions, tweets Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com.