Miami Heat: It’s time to think about trading Goran Dragic

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Goran Dragic
MIAMI, FL - MARCH 31: Goran Dragic /

Is it time for the Miami Heat to consider moving Goran Dragic?

You’re probably reading this title and thinking: “This guy is crazy. Goran Dragic happens to be the Miami Heat’s best player, a co-captain, and he loves the team.”

Trust me, you’re not the only one.

There’s plenty more Heat fans just like you, including some of AllUCanHeat’s very own in Ivan Mora and Allana Tachauer, who explain their side of the story here.

Yes, Goran Dragic is the best player on the team, leading the Miami Heat in points and assists per game.

And yes, LeBron James is no longer destroying playoff hopes and dreams in the Eastern Conference (though Kawhi Leonard might be).

Still, hear me out for a bit.

Right now, the Miami Heat have 12 players on the roster (13 if you want to include the two-way contract with Summer League sniper Duncan Robinson) and have yet to re-sign Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.

Additionally, the Heat are in cap space hell. With most of the cap space locked into long-term contracts, there’s no reprieve in sight.

Dragic is locked in for the 2018 season at over $18 million and has a player option of $19 million for the 2019 season.  Any chance he’ll forgo that contract? No way. That’s about the same annual salary that Zach LaVine just got from the Chicago Bulls, a player who is nine years younger than Dragic.

So with a Justise Winslow extension in sight, how can cap flexibility be maximized?

Yes, I know fans want Hassan Whiteside gone. And Tyler Johnson wouldn’t be missed that much either. But trading those guys most likely requires giving up some draft capital, or worse, Winslow or Bam Adebayo.

“Yeah, but if we trade Dragic, who’s gonna score for us? You think about that?”

I have.

Dion Waiters, otherwise known as Waiters Island, is making his way back to the court. And while he’s had some injury history (face it most of the team has this bad luck), he was averaging over 15 points a game in the 2016-17 season.

And there’s the natural development of the young core of Josh Richardson, Winslow and Adebayo. Can’t really hand them the reigns if you’re playing a 32-year old point guard heavy minutes every night.

“Okay, fine. We get it. But what are we gonna get for him?”

Two ideas, actually.

First, the Milwaukee Bucks for Eric Bledsoe. A 1-for-1 deal, a win-win proposition.

Not only does Bledsoe give the Heat a good replacement for Dragic (he averaged about the same amount of points) and used to be nicknamed ‘Mini-LeBron James,’ but he’s also got only one year on his contract. Put him with the coach that had the real James and there could be something cooking there.

"“He’s a mini-Lebron James,” Dragic said. “He’s got that big strength so when he’s in the open court, he’s unstoppable. Like a lot of fans know, I like to play fast basketball. When I get the ball to the other guy, he’s going to run. We’re going to score a lot of points.”"

For the Bucks, they’ll be trading for a longer contract and an older point guard. But maybe that’s exactly what they need.

Chances are after letting Jabari Parker walk and probably having to re-sign Khris Middleton next offseason, it doesn’t look like the Bucks will have incentives to re-sign Bledsoe.

Plus, having an All-Star who relentlessly attacks is a better option than the guy who scores fewer than 10 points in three of the seven games against Terry Rozier.

Second, the Phoenix Suns for Brandon Knight.

(Yes, I want the guy most commonly known for getting baptized by DeAndre Jordan.)

Although he’s coming off an ACL injury, the 26-year old Knight could definitely have some value for the Heat. While he’s a little injury prone, he’s averaged over 17 points per game in three of his seven seasons.

He’s got the same contract length as Dragic, but does provide a little bit of relief on the tax with his cap hit being a little smaller. Depending on Knight’s recovery, the Heat could even recoup a pick in this deal.

For the Suns, it may seem like an odd fit. But so does signing Trevor Ariza to a one year deal worth $15 million. It looks like they’re trying (key word: trying) to compete in the Western Conference and adding Dragic would be another weapon to add to Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton.

Another key is that Phoenix’s new head coach also happens to be Dragic’s coach on the Slovenian national team.

It always helps to have a guy who knows your system and has had success with it (Slovenia won EuroBasket 2017 and Dragic won MVP).

Both of these deals may still warrant keeping Dragic.

But there’s no real way to improve the roster right now. And while straddling in the lower seeds of the East is a way to wait out these contracts, freeing up some money while bringing in younger talent and possibly getting the same results is another.

All in all, you may still think I’m crazy.

Next: Miami Heat Roundtable: 2017-18 offseason staff takes

You may be right.