Goran Puts Rockets In Quandary





HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — This is shaping up to be the Year of the Dragon in Houston. As in Goran “Dragon” Dragic, who is playing some serious ball and made life without Kyle Lowry feel a lot more reassuring.

Dragic is coming off Player of the Week honors for going nuts against Chicago, the Lakers and Sacramento, when he averaged almost 21 points, eight assists and two steals and superbly directed the Houston offense.

His ability to shine the spotlight is something Dragic never doubted about himself, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

Somewhere between his goals and potential, Goran Dragic believed all this would happen.

With Kyle Lowry out for the past month, the 6-3 Dragic has become the Rockets’ most reliable force, among the league’s most productive point guards and soon, one of the most coveted free agents of the summer.

He doesn’t pretend to be surprised.

“I always expected this,” Dragic, 25, said. “I believed I could do it.”


His play is not just a result of getting the opportunity he could not as a backup to Steve Nash in Phoenix or Lowry with the Rockets. He said his game has matured as he has, giving him a greater sense of responsibility that has fit with his increased role.

“I would say, the first two years in the NBA, I was here alone,” Dragic said. “Maybe I was more hang out with my friends. We were having fun. Now I’m establishing my family life and just try to be a normal person.

“I know everything about myself. When I was a kid, you try to explore. I’m exploring more in my life with my girlfriend (Maja). We just moved together and this kind of stuff. On the court, you’re just playing basketball. (Since) I was 16 years old, I know what I’m capable to do. I just try to have fun, and relax and help my teammates.”

They have come to expect that from him. Rather than view Dragic as a late-season fluke or simply on a hot streak, this is the player they believe him to be.

Dragic was a solid backup to Steve Nash in Phoenix and in 2010 had his breakout in the postseason, when he scored 23 points in the fourth quarter against the Spurs in the West semifinals. Grant Hill called it the best fourth-quarter he’d ever seen in a playoff game. But the Suns shipped him to Houston for Aaron Brooks, who at the time was the reigning Most Improved Player of the Year winner and one of the better young point guards in the game. Advantage, Houston, because Dragic is producing in a starting role while Brooks … whatever happened to him, anyway?

Of course, the question now is, where does he show it from here? He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and the Rockets gave good money to Lowry, who has two more years ($12 million) on his deal. Do the Rockets tie up millions into one position? That was an issue they nearly ran into before they moved Brooks to Phoenix.

Or do they keep one point guard and trade the other? It’s a good problem to have, especially if general manager Daryl Morey swings a deal as deftly as he did in getting Dragic (and other since-jettisoned players) plus a No. 1 pick for Brooks. Already, there’s a buzz the Blazers could make a run at Dragic to solve their point guard problem:

“It was a little bit different,” said Dragic after the Rockets knocked off the Trail Blazers, a team desperate for a point guard and with the cap room for a spending spree. “Before, they never asked me this type of questions. ‘Are you going to come to Portland?’ Still, all the doors are open. We’re going to see what is going to happen this summer. I feel great in Houston.  Hopefully, I’m going to stay in Houston.”

Earlier, he did say something about “I want to be a starter.” Still, he seems very open to staying in Houston if things work out.

That might be tough. The Rockets have to want him back, but they do have Kyle Lowry locked up for two more seasons. All the excitement over Dragic since he stepped in when Lowry went out is no greater than when Lowry carried the team early in the season, including with an even more thorough beat-down of the Blazers. The Rockets run tons of point guard pick-and-roll. Good point guards will look good.

Having been given the opportunity, Dragic looks like the real deal. As a starter, he has averaged 18.2 points on 51.9 percent shooting and 44.2 percent 3-point shooting, along with 8.7 assists. More than that, he seems at his best when his best is needed (which makes him more the Slovenian Manu Ginobili than LeBron James.)

“I told the guys,” Portland interim head coach Kaleb Canales said, “I think he’s kind of playing a little bit like how Ginobili looks out there to me.”

All that Jeremy Lin backlash in February, when Daryl Morey tweeted that it was a mistake to let Lin get away, seems forgotten considering the point guards he has and the moves he made to get them. If Dragic turns out to be special, as he appears to be, and is allowed to walk, the heat would be much greater.

Dragic is a shifty and clever point guard who can get into the lane and create hell for the other team by breaking down a defense. He’s also bringing a dependable outside shot, especially from 3-point range, where he’s shooting 46 percent. He showed what he can do with big minutes and it’s unlikely the Rockets will cut them drastically, even with Lowry back in the mix.

Lowry was playing the basketball of his life before a bacterial infection benched him and gave Dragic the green light. As it does in these cases, it’ll come down to money and also what the Rockets can get for either player on the market if they decide to go that route.

For now, they’ll just use them both and create matchup problems for other teams as the playoffs approach. Sometimes, these decisions have a way of answering themselves, and for the Rockets and Dragic, the playoffs will tell.


41 Comments

  1. Karlo Garcia says:

    Goran is in the top 10 of PG.

  2. Karlo Garcia says:

    Why on earth did Phoenix trade Goran in the 1st place.

  3. jonski22 says:

    Sasha should be jealous by now.

  4. ObjectiveObserver says:

    Dragic is a young-steve-nash… he’s a gold mine, if rockets let him go they’ll regret forever

  5. Tony Monteon says:

    THIS ROCKETS TEAM LOOKS NICE WITH THE DRAGON. UNFORTUNATELY THEY WILL BE KNOCKED OUT IN THE FIRST OR SECOND ROUND. OR MAKE A GREAT RUN LIKE MEMPHIS DID LAST WHO PULLED OFF A BIG UPSET AGAINST S.A. AND GAVE THE THUNDER A GREAT 7 GAME SERIES. BUT GIVE CREDIT TO KEVIN MCHALE GREAT COACH GREAT MAN AND A COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE.

  6. Alex says:

    I think the Rockets should go with Dragic and ship away Lowry for players or picks. As a Suns fan, I’ve seen what Dragic can do, he is the real deal. For me to draw a comparison, I’d say he’s a more athletic version of his former mentor, Steve Nash. When you have an even more athletic Steve Nash, you keep that player. Lowry is a very good point guard that could really help out a team like New Orleans, a team that needs some direction. Lowry is a good young leader that would be be beneficial to their franchise.

    On the flip side, the Rockets would be keeping one of the rising stars in the league at PG, and would be getting added talent in exchange for Lowry.

  7. echo says:

    Goran is Nash and Ginobili combined! I’m an avid Hous fan, and Hous will have a big problem if they let him go

  8. SolidHoustonForever says:

    TRADE KEVIN MARTIN!!!!

  9. Raj says:

    Just as Lin brought the nicks together and gave some momentum to the team so did Kyle lowry and in the absence on lowry Dragic keeps the momentum going. Other wise with out these two point guards whole team looks mediocre. the other best thing that rockets did is to have Sam Dal and M Camby…….

  10. Raj says:

    Just as

  11. uh... yeah... says:

    “More than that, he seems at his best when his best is needed (which makes him more the Slovenian Manu Ginobili than LeBron James.)” OH BURN!!!

  12. Disguyrighthere says:

    GO GOGI! THE DRAGON!

  13. nader says:

    K. Martin should be traded . and Dragic should stay . but u never know with Rocket mgmt.

  14. Couch GM says:

    If Dragic had the big minutes last year he would have impressed just as much.
    He should have been on the radar from his incredible play in not only the Suns v Spurs series, but also in the Suns v Lakers series in 2010… He’s pretty damn good, GM’s have gotta be more aware

  15. gman says:

    dragic will be great to replace hamilton him and d rose BEAST

  16. Crox says:

    … Dragic was underrated way too long…

  17. Amitpal says:

    Typical suns story. Draft a good player then trade him away. I was soo pissed when they traded dragic and first round for Brooks. I believe the suns have the dumbest gm office crew. They always either draft the wrong guy or draft the right guy and then trade him for nothing. Deng, rondo, Rudy, add dragic to that list. 2 of them have already become all star and I think the third one is on his way.

    • gd3 says:

      Goran was a 2nd round draft pick by the Spurs who then traded his rights to the Suns. Another Scola-esque move San Antonio definitely regrets…

  18. Nejc says:

    Born in Slovenia, raised in Slovenia, thinks of himself as Slovenian and plays with heart for Slovenian national team…and you idiot are talking about serbs? GTFO!

  19. jackyu1985 says:

    Keep in mind, Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, and Kevin Martin were nearly dealt for Pau Gasol in a three-team trade before the season started, seems that Daryl Morey cares more on $$ than development of players and team, thus, even he re-signed with Houston, most likely he would be traded again in the middle of the next season.

    • Mino says:

      Thanks David Stern

    • gd3 says:

      Keep in mind, Goran barely got his name mentioned by the sports media during trade buzz of that failed cp3 deal. Now check his March game-by-game productivity where he started all but 2 games. That’s select company with efficiency/impact….and humility. The guy is just happy to be playing and it shows, the kind of player I root for on any team.

  20. Joaquin says:

    Go back to Phoenix, replace Nash as the team’s point guard. Nash was in Phoenix, then got traded, and returned to Phoenix as a free agent. It only seems perfect for Dragic to do the same, I really think he can be a top 5 point guard in this league.

    • Im a fan but still says:

      doubt it… Chris Paul… Derrick Rose … Deron Williams… Rajon rondo…. RUssel Westbrook….Steve Nash… John Wall…

  21. sri says:

    76ers would like a player like him

  22. HeatRDaBest says:

    Dragic rules SERBS FOREVER!!!!

  23. Da'man says:

    why did everyone start talking about paul pierce?

  24. Lin is still legit says:

    Suns fan here. Feel so happy for this kid. He couldn’t thrive when under Steve Nash. When the Lin hype was so annoying, I was actually reminded about this kid. Same height, similar role, only that he’s not asian and thus no media attention.

  25. PP34 says:

    Paul Pierce is a FAKE injury prone, FAKE tough guy

    i support Dragic all the way since i watched he pawned the Spurs 2 years ago

    if he can’t stay in Houston as a starter, i suggest him head back to Phoenix, or goto Indiana,Utah,Portland

  26. couchstains says:

    Paul Pierce is THE TRUTH!!

  27. Robert says:

    Don’t need to remind me (a suns fan) about how well Dragic is doing. Still upset about him getting dealt to the rockets right when he was beginning to hit his NBA stride

  28. HEHEHE says:

    I thought Paul Pierce was the truth…

  29. Goran is the truth i seen him play a couple times dude got game

    • Nathan says:

      I would choose Dragic over Lowry any day. I’m a Rockets fan and I honestly think Lowry is over-rated. He has his moments but when he isn’t playing great, you can really see it. Dragic can have an off shooting night but he still contributes. I just don’t see that from Lowry.

      • tj says:

        Im a rockets fan till the end and dragic is the truth. I hope houston keeps him for sure. But to say lowery is overated is not true at all. this kid worked his way up after being a back up to arron brooks and has made one of the biggest improvements i ever seen. They should play them together and put dragic at the 2 gurad. The rockets unlike many other teams actually play team ball and our at their best when they play that way. I think dragic is the best thing that happened to the rockets and a long time and they would be dumb not to do whatever necc to keep him. But its all about the money. But the purpose of me writing this was to tell nathan that lowery is just as sick he carried the team in the beg of the season and check his numbers cause they prove it. They are both sick and once lowery is back healthly he will be sick no doubt and the rockets will give some team hell first round in the playoffs. Oh and lets not forget about the rookie chanldler parsons who has def helped the rockets. They would not be where they are now with out him… Rockets are a team and even with no all stars they are fun to watch