Goran Dragic on watching playoffs as outsider this season
Goran Dragic has a decision to make this offseason: Opt out for possibly one final multiyear contract or wait another year before becoming a free agent.
The point guard isn’t ready to make that decision.
“I didn’t think about it,” Dragic said during a Friday afternoon appearance where he surprised guests and bought them lunch at a Doral Chick-fil-A as part of the “Random Acts of Heat” initiative. “I was just at home having a good time with my kids. I had a meeting with Pat [Riley] and that was it. I told him I’m going to make my decision when that comes. So I still need to talk to the family, the agent.
“Right now, I just wanted to have at least two weeks to one month completely off, enjoy my vacation with them. When it’s going to be time for business, we’re going to sit down and talk.”
Dragic, who turns 33 on May 6, has until June 29 to decide on the player option in his contract for next season worth $19.2 million. He just finished the fourth season of a five-year, $85 million deal he signed with the Heat in the summer of 2015.
Dragic 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 past season. He missed 46 games, with right knee surgery in December forcing him to sit out 31 consecutive games until he returned immediately after the All-Star break in February.
With the Heat using a patient and cautious approach in bringing back 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.
Dragic said Friday he has not experienced a setback with his surgically repaired knee and just needs to work on strengthening it for next season.
“The knee is fine. Everything after the surgery, everything looked fine,” he said. “The only thing I have to do is try to make it stronger. That’s on me. So the doctor checked me and everything was fine. I got all my workouts and what I need to do to completely be back to 100 percent.”
Excluding cap holds, the Heat has 13 players under contract for 2019-20 who are due about $140 million. That includes the four players (Derrick Jones Jr., Yante Maten, Duncan Robinson, Kendrick Nunn) who don’t have their full 2019-20 salaries guaranteed yet. It also includes Hassan Whiteside and Dragic, who both have 2019-20 player options to decide on this offseason. But it doesn’t account for an allocation for the Heat’s first-round draft pick this year.
The $140 million of combined salaries can be lowered by about $6 million by waiving Ryan Anderson by July 10. That still puts the Heat above the projected $109 million salary cap and just above the projected $132 million luxury tax line.
One way the Heat can get under the luxury tax line or free cap space while still bringing back Dragic is by replacing his deal for $19.2 million (his player option for next season) with a multiyear deal at lower money. While that would help Miami’s 2019-20 cap sheet, it would eat into its cap space for 2020-21 and 2021-22.
Does Dragic think that far ahead after just finishing his 11th NBA season?
“I don’t think like that because I’m just focused on the year that is coming,” he said. “If I’m thinking what’s going to happen in three, four or five years, that’s never going to be good. My only focus is on the present and trying to get my body right and have a good season. Then after, we’re going to see what’s going to happen.”
For now, Dragic’s plan is to head home to Slovenia next week before returning to Miami later in the summer. And at some point he’ll make a decision on his player option.
“It’s a lot of factors,” Dragic said of his decision. “My family, where they feel comfortable. Me, where I’m going to feel comfortable. Winning. Everything. Where I feel that they want me, so it’s a lot of stuff. But like I said, I’m happy here in Miami. I told that to Pat and everybody, so we’ll see.”