On Friday morning and for the first time since 2008, the Miami Heat did their exit interviews before the NBA playoffs even began. The biggest news that came out of the exit interviews was that recently added guard, Goran Dragic, once again confirmed that he will be opting out of his contract this offseason. However, the Heat seems confident that they will be able to retain the guard, who in 2014 won Most Improved Player honors while playing for the Phoenix Suns.
One reason for the Heat’s confidence in Dragic returning would be that he is very happy in Miami. During his exit interview Dragic said, “I had a great time in Miami and I want to come back, but we’ll see what happens.”
Another reason they are confident is because they are still a great fit for Dragic. They are the only team that will be able to offer him a fifth year on his contract this offseason, and they have a group of players that Dragic really looks forward to playing with.
Dragic was never able to play with Chris Bosh since the day after Dragic was traded to the Heat, Bosh was hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs that would put an end to his season. In the 2013-14 season, Dragic and Channing Frye teamed up to be the league’s best pick-and-roll duo. Many people, including Frye, believe Dragic and Bosh will be an extremely successful pick-and-roll duo as well.
“Oh, it’s going to be crazy. That’s going to make them really tough. Goran is definitely a centerpiece on a lot of teams. And I’ve talked to him, he says he loves it down here, he loves the organization. Goran is one of my guys, and I’ve always got his back. He’s good, and those two together are going to be tough. Chris Bosh is not as prolific a three-point shooter as I was, but he is a lot better scorer, a lot better one-on-one post guy. So it’s really hard to play that,” said Frye before playing against the Heat on Monday.
Bosh isn’t the only player Dragic looks forward to playing with. Dwyane Wade and Dragic instantly became close once Dragic got traded to the Heat. And playing with a rim protector as good as Hassan Whiteside, who averaged 2.6 blocks per game this season, makes Dragic’s job much easier on defense.
There are several other reasons for Dragic to stay in Miami. His brother, Zoran, is under contract with the Heat for next season, the Heat have only missed the playoffs twice in the last 12 seasons which is something Dragic’s only accomplished once in his seven-year career, and the fact that the state of Florida does not have state taxes. But there is a very real possibility that Dragic does end up somewhere other than Miami. When Dragic told the Suns he wanted to be traded, he specifically said he wanted to go to the Heat, the Knicks, or the Lakers. The Knicks and Lakers are expected to be two of this off-season’s biggest spenders, and if the Heat don’t offer Dragic enough money, he might end up playing for one of those teams in the 2015-16 season.
Dragic averaged 16.3 points and 4.5 assists per game this year. He led all guards in field goal percentage, making 50.1 percent of his field goal attempts. There are very few guards in this league that are as good in the paint as Dragic is. Whatever team signs him this offseason may need to use a max contract on him.
The contract that Dragic is opting out of would owe him $7.5 million in the 2015-16 season and $11.25 million in the 2016-17 season. Dragic also announced that he will most likely not be working out with the Slovenian national team this summer. Instead, he can spend time with his wife who is pregnant and give himself time to think over his options for free agency.