It was a messy divorce, but at least it ended quickly.
Just days after informing the Phoenix Suns that he would not re-sign with them after the season, Goran Dragic was dealt to Miami just before the trade deadline Thursday. Dragic said that he did not trust management and that management made promises it did not keep.
The Suns do not know what Dragic was referring to.
“I thought it was a bit unfair,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show, referring to Dragic’s claims. “Well, I shouldn’t say a bit unfair; I thought it was very unfair. Goran, over the past few years, played the best ball of his career in Phoenix. Coach (Jeff) Hornacek and I arrived here two years ago. The previous season, the Suns won 25 games and finished last in the Western Conference – and Goran was a member of that team. So coach and I arrived and decided we needed to upgrade the roster and make some changes, and we feel like we did that with the acquisition of Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas and others. we were the most improved team in the league a year ago.
“It’s frustrating,” McDonough continued. “It’s disappointing since the team has played relatively well since we’ve been here and since Goran individually – especially a year ago – reached a level that he had never come close to reaching prior to last year in his NBA career. So it’s a little disappointing, a little frustrating, but I feel like we made the best of a bad situation.”
Asked about the alleged broken promises, McDonough didn’t have any answers.
“I don’t know,” McDonough said. “You’d have to ask him.”
Dragic, to be clear, put the Suns in a tough position. He had an expiring contract, he said he didn’t want to return to Phoenix, and there were only a handful of teams he was interested in signing with.
“It did make it a challenge,” McDonough admitted. “We wish they wouldn’t have handled it that way – the player and his agent – but that’s the way they handled it. So like I said, we tried to make the best of a bad situation. The risks for us were obvious. If you’re here the rest of the year, he could have been disgruntled and disruptive. He told us he was leaving at the end of the year, and we wouldn’t have gotten anything for him. Instead, we were able to flip him (to) Miami for two future first-round picks, one that’s completely unprotected – meaning that could be the No. 1 pick in the draft. I know it’s a little ways out, in 2021. And the other pick that we could get as early as 2017 – so two years from now – could be in the mid-to-late lottery.
“So we felt like that was a good return,” McDonough continued. “I think sometimes fans have a hard time visualizing four, five, six years down the road. Especially given the situation, we had to think of it with a longer lens. Whether we draft players with those picks or put them in trades to acquire a superstar or what have you, we feel like they have tremendous value for us.”