Goran Dragic is signing with the Brooklyn Nets now that he has secured a buyout from the San Antonio Spurs, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Dragic started the season with the Toronto Raptors after being dealt away from his longtime home of Miami in the Kyle Lowry deal, but it became apparent early on that the two sides were not interested in a long-term partnership. Dragic played just five games as a Raptor before leaving the team for personal reasons. He was dealt to San Antonio on Feb. 10 (trade deadline day), but the rebuilding Spurs had no need for his services. Now he'll join a contender that badly needed him.
The Nets entered this season with more ball-handling than they knew what to do with. The combination of James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Patty Mills left little room for another offense-first guard, but Irving is eligible to play in just half of Brooklyn's games due to a New York City COVID vaccine mandate and Harden was recently dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers. Ben Simmons came back in that deal, and he is a ball-handler, but not one suited to half-court shot-creation in a postseason setting.
In Dragic, the Nets have given themselves an insurance policy against Irving's absence and Simmons' postseason problems. It was only two seasons ago that Dragic averaged more than 19 points per game in helping the Heat reach the NBA Finals. He is now 35 years old and likely can't play heavy minutes, but he was still a solid secondary shot-creator for the Heat a season ago. With Kevin Durant in place, that's all he'll need to be for the Nets.
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Brooklyn likely appealed to Dragic for two reasons. The opportunity to compete for a title must have played into his decision. Dragic has played in the Finals, but has never won a championship. But as a 2022 free agent, Dragic now has a chance to boost his value and potential score one last major contract. No other contender could offer Dragic the minutes and touches that Brooklyn can due to Irving's unique circumstances. Half of the time, Dragic could serve as Brooklyn's starting point guard.
Even if he doesn't, Dragic was one of the most coveted players in buyout market history. He could have joined practically any contender. He chose the Nets, and that suggests they plan to make him a major part of their championship push this spring.