Spoelstra on Dragic: “It just is great to have him back out here”
With a player option in Goran Dragic’s contract for next season worth $19.2 million, he will have a decision to make this offseason.
But that decision will come later on, with the Heat’s offseason just beginning following Wednesday’s season finale in Brooklyn.
“I’ll talk to my family, agent, just see what’s best,” Dragic said late Wednesday.
This comes days after center Hassan Whiteside indicated that he will consider opting out of his $27.1 million player option with the Heat for next season because of his lack of playing time.
But Dragic said it’s still too early to evaluate his options. He just finished the fourth season of a five-year, $85 million deal he signed with the Heat in the summer of 2015.
The 32-year-old point guard averaged 13.7 points on 41.3 percent shooting from the field and 34.8 percent shooting on threes, 3.1 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season. Dragic missed 46 games, with right knee surgery in December forcing him to sit out 31 consecutive games before he returned following the All-Star break in February.
With the Heat using a patient and cautious approach with Dragic following knee surgery and the emergence of 23-year-old Justise Winslow as a point guard, Dragic averaged 26.5 minutes of playing time after he returned from injury and did not return to the starting lineup until late March.
“I mean it’s tough, after an injury and everything else. There’s a lot of factors,” Dragic said. “I’ll try to do what is best for my career, for my family. It’s going to require to talk a lot and see from there what’s going to be best.”
If Whiteside and Dragic both choose to bypass their player options, which is unlikely, the Heat would have enough cap space to bid for a high-end free agent this offseason.
The Heat currently has 11 players under contract for next season, with impending free agent Udonis Haslem not included in that group. They are collectively scheduled to earn around $134 million, which is right at the projected luxury tax line, but could be lowered by about $6 million by releasing Ryan Anderson. That does not account for an allocation for the Heat’s first-round draft pick.
That group of 11 includes Miami’s two players with opt-out clauses: Whiteside and Dragic. The Heat is well above next season’s projected $109 million cap if Whiteside and Dragic return next season.
Asked if he faces a difficult decision this summer, Dragic said: “I mean, if it would be a simple decision, probably I would already know now. So, yeah.”
At 39-43, the Heat is tied with the Hornets and Kings for the best record among non-playoff teams. The Heat will enter the May 14 NBA draft lottery in Chicago with a 4.7 percent chance at landing one of the top-four picks.
The Heat, Hornets and Kings have a 1 percent chance at the top overall pick, which is expected to be Duke forward Zion Williamson. The three teams have a 1.1 percent chance at the No. 2 pick, a 1.2 percent chance at the No. 3 pick and a 1.4 percent chance at the No. 4 pick.
If the Heat, Hornets and Kings don’t beat the odds to move into the top-four picks in the June 20 NBA draft, a random drawing held Friday at about 4:40 p.m. in New York will determine which team selects No. 12., No. 13 and No. 14. The drawing will be televised live on NBA TV.
The only picks the Heat can end up with after the lottery are No. 1, No. 2, No. 3, No. 4, No. 12, No. 13 or No. 14.
A RICHARDSON UPDATE
Josh Richardson missed the final four games of the Heat’s season because of a strained left hip.
“It sucks. But I’ll get over it,” Richardson said before Wednesday’s season finale in Brooklyn. “I know I could have affected a lot of those games, but it is what it is. You just got to roll with the punches sometimes.”
Richardson, 25, sustained the left hip injury during the Heat’s April 3 home loss to the Celtics after coming down awkwardly while trying to block a Kyrie Irving layup. The good news for Richardson is an MRI on his left hip and groin revealed no structural damage.
“I was scared,” he said. “I thought it was way worse. But I’m happy that I don’t got to have surgery or none of that. That’s a blessing.”
Richardson said the injury will heal on its own over time. He finished his fourth NBA season as the Heat’s leading scorer at 16.6 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting to go with 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists.