In one of most notable transactions of the 2021 NBA offseason, the Miami Heat acquired Kyle Lowry via sign-and-trade with the Toronto Raptors. Veteran point guard Goran Dragic and promising big man Precious Achiuwa went back to the Raptors in the deal.
The move turned the Heat into a team capable of winning more than one playoff series in the Eastern Conference. For the Raptors, the decision to let go of the 35-year-old Lowry signaled that the organization is looking to fully lean into its youth movement.
However, Dragic doesn’t seem to fully fit that mold in Toronto. The 35-year-old point guard and 15-year NBA vet has seen his better playing days pass him by, but can still be an extremely reliable piece for any team ready to contend for a title in the immediate future.
The Raptors don’t seem prepared to chase a ring anytime soon, leading to questions about Dragic’s future in Toronto. Apparently, the veteran point guard sees the writing on the wall and might be looking for a way out.
In a TV interview in his native Slovenia this week, Dragic honestly revealed that Toronto is not his “preferred destination” for next season.
“Toronto is not my preferred destination. I have higher ambitions. We’ll see,” Dragic said in Slovenian, via local reporter Zoran Savin.
— Zoran Savin (@Zooox) August 9, 2021
Dragic’s honestly is pretty stunning, but could speed up the timeline for him to leave the Raptors. According to NBA insider Marc Stein, the team has vehemently denied that a buyout of the point guard’s contract is on the table and has also “rebuffed trade overtures” for the 35-year-old. Toronto’s stance on the matter could change if Dragic makes clear that he doesn’t have any intention of playing in Canada.
The pursuit of Dragic could get interesting given his extensive experience in the league. Numerous contenders could look to add him, even if it meant placing him in a smaller role. Dragic showed his ability to provide instant scoring for the Heat over the last few years, especially in the playoffs where he was one of the most reliable shot-creators during Miami’s run to the NBA Finals in 2020.
One team that pops out for Dragic is the Dallas Mavericks, who are in need of another playmaker alongside Luka Doncic. The 35-year-old could provide the roster with veteran leadership and already has a connection to the Mavs young star, having played alongside him on the Slovenian national team.
However, the Mavericks would likely need to send something of value back to the Raptors in order to take on Dragic. They might be willing to in order to upgrade the roster around Doncic, but will need to be careful to not spark any further tension with their budding MVP candidate.