Goran Dragic’s planned family vacation will go on as scheduled in a few weeks – for now.
The Heat’s starting point guard, who has been looking forward to spending a week off with his wife and kids since the NBA’s All-Star reserves were announced last week without his name included among the seven Eastern Conference players selected by the league’s coaches, was passed over Tuesday night by commissioner Adam Silver to replace injured Wizards guard John Wall at next month’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles.
Silver instead selected Detroit center Andre Drummond, the league’s leading rebounder, to represent the Eastern Conference in Wall’s absence. But Dragic could still be in play for a spot now that another one has opened up.
Tuesday night, Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love broke his left hand in a game against the Detroit Pistons. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks and now Silver will have to choose a replacement for Love as well.
The Heat, which owns the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 29-21 heading into Wednesday’s game in Cleveland, is the only team in the East among the top eight seeds which qualify for the playoffs without an All-Star representative.
Dragic, who leads the team in scoring at 17 points per game and in assists with 4.8 per game, is Miami’s strongest candidate to serve as an All-Star. But Dragic, 31, ranked 14th in scoring and 15th in assists among Eastern Conference guards entering Tuesday’s action.
When the voting results for the Eastern Conference backcourt selections were announced by the NBA earlier this month, Dragic ranked 13th in the weighted scores among guards, which took into account votes from other players, the fan vote and media vote.
Philadelphia rookie Ben Simmons (16.6 ppg, 7.9 rebounds per game, 7.3 assists per game), Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas (15.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) and Dwyane Wade (11.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.7 apg), Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe (16.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.2 apg) and Boston’s Jaylen Brown (14.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.4 apg) all received higher weighted scores than Dragic among Eastern Conference backcourt players.
A press release from the league office on Tuesday said Drummond was chosen as Wall’s replacement in part because he received the most votes from coaches among the group of Eastern Conference reserve players who were not initially selected to play in the game.
It’s unclear where Dragic ranks among reserve players voted on by the coaches because those results were kept confidential by league officials. It’s also unclear if that’s the criteria Silver is using to replace injured players in the All-Star Game. But he did use that criteria for Drummond and in choosing Oklahoma City forward Paul George to replace injured Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins last week.
Either way, Dragic, who led Slovenia’s national team to a gold medal this summer at the EuroBasket tournament, has said he would prefer to have the All-Star break off so he could spend more time with his family and get more rest. The Heat, though, is publicly showing support for Dragic.
Heat owner Micky Arison tweeted Tuesday: “#Dragon2LA”
The Heat, which did not have an All-Star representative last season for the first time since 2004, does not have a player on its roster who has been an All-Star before. No Eastern Conference team seeded fourth or higher at the time of the All-Star Game has gone without a selection since the 1993 New Jersey Nets. The last time that happened league-wide was in 2003 with the Portland Trail Blazers.
ESPN reported last week that Heat guard Wayne Ellington will participate in this year’s three-point contest.
▪ Wall is expected to miss six to eight weeks after he undergoes an arthroscopic debridement procedure Wednesday on his left knee.
Wall was drafted to play on LeBron James’ team at the All-Star Game Feb. 18. So Drummond will play for Team LeBron.
Thus far, all three injured All-Stars were drafted by James, whose team will take on the one led by former MVP Stephen Curry of the Warriors.
It’s the first time the NBA has not used its traditional Eastern Conference vs. Western Conference format for the All-Star Game.